Ukrainian student in Lincoln wants to help his homeland | Neighborhood Extra

SUBMITTED BY ANDREA GALLAGHER, USTA, Missouri Valley, Nebraska, for the Neighborhood Extra

For the past year and a half, Mykhailo (Michael) Ivashchenko has been in Lincoln studying computer science on a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He has adapted to Nebraska, and even ramped up his tennis skills by volunteering at Woods Tennis Center whenever he can. However, in the last few weeks, his home country of Ukraine has never felt so far away.

“So far, it has been hard for me, even though I have been trying my best to do everything I can to help my people and country, you still keep asking yourself if you are doing enough,” he said. certain feeling of guilt that you are not there regardless of the common sense that is saying, ‘you can be more useful being where you are.’ ”

The 23-year-old is in constant contact with family and friends. They are safe now, but that could change at any moment. He’s also trying to stay in contact with the professors and staff at the Fulbright office in Kyiv. He said they are alive and well, but spend most of their time in bomb shelters.

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“I have had more emotions than thoughts at this point,” he added. “Those include frustration, sadness and confusion.”

Ivashchenko is currently working on his second master’s degree. His first one is in software engineering; this one is computer science. He wants to help Ukraine with faster technological development. When he’s not studying, he’s helping out at Woods Tennis Center because he enjoys tennis and it’s a way for him to give back to the community.

“I’ve been in love with the game since I started,” he said. “In addition, all the coaches and staff at Woods have been extremely kind to me. Thus, I have been trying to provide any help necessary, being an assistant coach in the junior groups, where kids’ ages range from 7 to 13. ”

“The kids and adults really enjoy getting to know him,” said Kevin Heim, executive director at Woods. “There are people from all walks of life, different socio-economic backgrounds, different physical and cognitive abilities and different cultures here at Woods, and Michael blends in perfectly.”

Although soccer has always held a special place in his heart, Ivashchenko enjoys the challenges of tennis, which is not very popular in Ukraine because of the expense.

“It is considered to be an ‘elite’ sport because of the expenses one needs to invest to allow their kid to become proficient in tennis,” he said. “Besides, the way people are coached back in Eastern Europe is different from what it looks like in the US The process of a player’s development is more focused on private lessons. ”

Ivashchenko hopes to earn his doctorate degree at UNL as well. Until then, he is focused on his homeland and encouraging anyone to help out. No matter how little, he said, any donation can help the people in Ukraine during this difficult time.

“I want everyone to know that even though physically we are far away from the war in my country, it affects all of us,” he said. “Even five dollars could potentially buy medicine to save a baby that was just born under the bombings. in the Metropolitan of Kyiv. ”

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