'It's very scary for my family': Vanderbilt University students fear for loved ones in Ukraine

Posted at 10:02 PM, Feb 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 19:41:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As fighting rages on in Ukraine, people gathered at the Tennessee Capitol to rally for peace.

Protesters called for more U.S. support and sanctions against Russia.

Diana Nalyvaiko is a Ukrainian student studying voice performance at Vanderbilt University. For the last couple of weeks, her mind has been focused on her family's safety.

"I'm texting like every day how are you doing, are you okay, are you safe, do you have everything you need," Nalyvaiko said.

Her dad, brother and cousins are fighting for peace in their home country. But Nalyvaiko says Ukraine can't win the war alone.

"We want the United Nations to see that right now is their time to make this peace and they are not doing a lot. We want more, we want more help," she said.

Nalyvaiko said more help could mean the difference between having a home to return to or not.

"Today I woke up and I saw a lot of videos of my hometown burning, there were a lot of fires in my hometown and a lot of places that were meaningful for me and I don't know what it's going to be like when I come back," she said.

It's a similar fear Mariia Marchuk is experiencing. She's also a Ukrainian student at Vanderbilt who worries about those she loves.

For her time is not what day of the week it is, but how many days her people have been fighting.

"So far it's four days, the main challenge for me was like the first three hours that it happened just because I was trying to call my mom immediately. I tried calling her multiple times but there was like not a dial," she said.

For now, both Nalyvaiko and Marchuk say their family is safe and their message for the community is a shared one.

"Please, please, please don't remain inactive. Just like please do something do your part. This is important for me, this is important for my family, this is important for every family in Ukraine," Marchuk said.

Marchuk said if you would like to learn how to help Ukraine, you can visit: StandWithUkraine.