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“You have been told that this flame will bring liberation to Ukraine’s people. But the Ukrainian people are free. They remember their own past and will build their own future,” he reasoned. “They tell you that we’re Nazis. But how can a people that lost eight million lives to defeat the Nazis support Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Say it to my grandfather, who fought in World War II as a Soviet infantryman and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.” His pleas mere echos in the wind; three hours later, bombs struck their first targets in my native land. Today, much of my country stands in ruins.

The pain runs deep. The fear, the anger, the sadness—all compounded by Vladimir Putin’s lies–or “fake news.” How much of the Russian public is still in the dark about the war crimes committed in their name? I know there have been protests, but a swift crackdown has silenced most dissent, and the threat of a fifteen-year prison sentence at the outset of the war has made independent and foreign broadcasters close shop. Now there’s only one stream of consciousness, and that is from the Kremlin. Neighbors report each other to the authorities if the official version of the “special military operation” is questioned. The war continues. Journalists and pundits speculate what terror Russian troops might unleash at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants. Is another Chernobyl possible?

I have witnessed Ukrainians fight for democracy. In recent times, I have seen our sacrifice and know what we have endured throughout history in an eternal struggle for our sovereignty. We have been under Russian subjugation for at least three centuries. Soviet policy in the 1930s turned to Russification, a form of cultural assimilation in which non-Russians were forced to give up their culture and language for Russian culture and language. By 1932 and 1933, my great-grandmother, who had seven siblings, lived through the Holodomor, or Terror-Famine–a man-made famine exacerbated by the policies of Josef Stalin. Only three of my great-grandmother's siblings survived. An estimated six to eight million people died from hunger; nearly five million were Ukrainians. Our culture, history, poets, creators, scientists, food, language–all stolen, practically wiped out as if we had never existed. How dare anyone say we are brothers. Please don't insult us like this. Even in the face of Russian aggression in 2014, we stood firm during our Revolution of Dignity. We ousted Viktor Yanukovych and overthrew the Kremlin’s puppet government. We instated a democratically-elected president–Volodymyr Zelensky–a president of the people, a modern-day hero. Our president stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukrainian citizens to face this current Russian aggression against incredible odds.

We cry out for help.

The world watches.

Western nations fear outright military support will signal an escalation of the war. As I scroll through image after image on social media of the carnage Russian tanks and missiles have left across towns and cities throughout Ukraine, I can’t help thinking that these sanctions feel more like a drop in the ocean.

And though they are mounting against Putin and his oligarchs, to a Ukrainian eye, the vast majority of the Russian public stands motionless and inert. But then again, on the one hand, what can you expect from a country, from the latest polls, shows that eighty percent of Russians approve of the war? We can probably thank the falsified Russian version of events and the ever-present fear of a long-forgotten Soviet state for the censored voices and controlled lives. On the other hand, we know that this aggressive stance is not new. Russia has initiated wars and intervened in conflicts for years, and the Russian public has done little to stop its government.



In Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the Donbas region in 2014, Russians supported the annexation. Their prolonged silence has only emboldened Putin. And here we are today. As Russia continues destroying our way of life, millions of Ukrainians, primarily women and children, have fled to an unknown and uncertain future. Men—husbands, brothers, uncles, cousins, have stayed behind to fight. The Russian public is just as much at fault as their leaders. Russian leaders and citizens should all have to pay a high price for this carnage.

There is a genocide occurring in my country.

Citizens are the target.

I have lost count of all the children who have died. People worldwide react, expressing concern, but I’m sorry, “concern” doesn’t quite match the despair I feel. I want to scream so everyone hears. Don’t they realize that I have no clue if my family is still alive? I wonder what has happened to my cousins, who are just two years older than me, and my uncle, who joined the Ukrainian military to defend our land. Doesn’t the world realize that my house was bombed, that we have lost our money, and that others we know have been killed? Don’t they know the daily psychological dread of a chemical weapons attack? I am perplexed when I hear that Russians are “salty” if we say we despise them. Is that too strong an emotion for our politically correct world?

Putin has said that he believes “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, one nation…” and that “when these lands that are now the core of Ukraine joined Russia…nobody thought of themselves as anything but Russians.” Let me answer that with a quote from a woman in Mariupol,

I am sure I will die soon. It is a matter of a few days.

In this city, everyone is constantly waiting for death. I just want it not to be too scary.

Does this reflect “we are one?” When will the world do more to end this ruthless violence and mass murder of the Ukrainian people?

When will it end?

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Chapter 13: Celebrating Faculty | Celebrating Lucy Clink

Lucy Click

2-D and IB Art Teacher

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
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Chapter 14: Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview, Cortile 2022 Highlights

 Rohit Aggarwala ‘89

Chief Climate Officer and Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
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Chapter 14: Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Varun Baker ‘01

Co-Founder & Managing Director Farm Credibly

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Chapter 14: Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Rachel Nicholson ‘06

Director, Visitor Engagement and Research at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
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Chapter 14: Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Brian McKenna ‘00

Music Producer

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
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Chapter 15: Alumni Stories | Visiting Family Stories, Alumni Stories

Visiting Sully Plantation, Visiting Family Secrets

I stood in the thick green grass, looking at a slave dwelling at Sully Plantation, Chantilly, Virginia.

The cabin was built to replicate one that had housed the people my ancestors enslaved. It was a hot August day in 2021, 95 degrees with Virginia’s drenching humidity. I heard the loud chorus of crickets, the leaves shifting in the nearby copse, felt the heat in the breeze.

By Sarah Fleming ‘71
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Chapter 15: Alumni Stories | Science Stories for Grown-Ups, Alumni Stories

Science Stories for Grown-Ups

Everything ended with a book.
No wait.
Everything started with a book.

By Guilia Sebastio
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Chapter 15: Alumni Stories | St. Stephen's Community, A Small World, Alumni Stories

The Small World of Serendipity

This story is equal parts chance, serendipity, a small world, and the St Stephen’s community.

I am a musician and young entrepreneur, and when I was based in London, I was searching for ways to build connections.

By Edoardo Pariante ‘15