Recently, Vika Yaremchuk and Marta Rogach—exchange students from Lviv Business School in Ukraine—gathered more than 70 Tuck students, professors, and TPs to learn about Ukrainian culture through a hands-on event. Participants painted Easter eggs, competed in a Ukraine quiz, ate a delicious Ukrainian dinner, and learned more about the country and its unique traditions.
The more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve come to love and cherish Ukrainian traditions, which have their unique and very old history. They survived centuries of repression, bans, tragedies, and lives lost. So, when we started thinking about the event, I already knew that I want to teach people one of my favorite Ukrainian traditions—Easter egg painting, the tradition which dates back to pre-Christian times and appeals to something very unifying and eternal—calling for sun and warmth of summer. Every year before Easter, together with friends and family, we decorate and paint eggs with different patterns using wax pencils. This is a meditative, usually pretty long, and always very fun activity while spending time with those close to you. It felt like the right thing to share and do together with my Tuck classmates as we learned about each other’s culture, values, and creativity. It was an opportunity to step out of one’s comfort zone while in a supportive environment.
Leading up to the event, I felt it was necessary to show Ukraine as it has not yet been shown in the news and media—Ukraine as it was before the full-fledged invasion by Russia on February 24, 2022. It feels that every month we lose parts of our former lives, and with every day of this war, we slowly forget how it was to live a normal life and not actively think about the need to survive.
I’ve not kept a diary or a journal of the war, which I’m sorry about, but even more, I’m sorry we Ukrainians, started forgetting how it was before the war. There were feasts and daily meals of great food, amazing literature and cinema, a flourishing entrepreneurship culture, big agriculture and industry, great coffee and wine festivals, a bustling theater scene, amazing sports competitions, wonderful youth eco-initiatives, and many more things. Above all, we were all building plans for the future and many of us were hurrying back home for Christmas, Easter, and other holidays from all over the world. This year, Marta and I couldn’t be home for Easter, so we wanted to share some Easter with our fellow Tuckies, as well as let them taste and touch Ukraine in a different way.
The idea to organize an event and share a piece of Ukraine with Tuckies came to me before my arrival here in Hanover. I have spent many years living abroad and always enjoyed learning more about other cultures and traditions, trying different national dishes, and meeting people from all over the world. But Ukraine was always in my heart—the history of my country has always excited me and made me feel proud, the warmest memories of my life are associated with our traditions, our food has always been my favorite, and our language the most beautiful.
Two years ago, I moved back to Ukraine from Poland and felt very happy to return to the place I love with all my heart. I couldn’t even imagine that a year after that I would wake up to the new reality in which war became routine for me. The war changed many things, including my attitude to patriotism, and love for the country and culture. These feelings have grown infinitely and now it is difficult to convey how proud I am that I belong to the nation of real heroes—courageous, strong, fearless. For many years, we were not noticed and our incredible nature, delicious food, unsurpassed music, interesting traditions, and great achievements in sports and science were not noticed as well. But now it’s time to speak up.
This event became an opportunity for me to introduce at least a small part of Ukraine to people. This was an opportunity to show and explain what we are so desperately fighting for. After the Russian invasion, the press and media began to talk a lot about Ukraine and show footage of the invasion and the destruction they brought to our land. So, I am sure that most people have seen what the war in Ukraine looks like, but in order to truly understand us, it is important to see what a peaceful Ukraine looks like.
Marta and Vika are exchange students from Ukraine who joined Tuck for the 2023 spring term. They both are originally from Lviv, Ukraine, and are graduating this year from Lviv Business School at Ukrainian Catholic University. Marta is finishing her Master's degree in marketing management and Vika’s major is technology management. They have been very excited about coming to Tuck and sharing their stories about studying and working during times of war.