Northwestern for Ukraine uses art to raise funds and awareness

For Northwestern for Ukraine’s first fundraiser, students sold handmade pins made of yellow and blue pompoms as well as Ukrainian pastries and candies. Weeks later, their creations have become visible symbols of support across campus.

Sonya Voloboi, a McCormick sophomore who immigrated to the US from Ukraine in 2010, is a founding member of Northwestern for Ukraine. She said she appreciates seeing other students express solidarity for the organization’s mission.

“Anytime that I walk down Sheridan and I see a student with one of our pins or somebody with one of our stickers on their laptop or water bottle, it makes me feel like the community is rallying behind us,” Voloboi said.

Students in Northwestern for Ukraine have created and sold handmade goods at each of their fundraisers. The group has also collaborated with Knitwestern to create ribbons and bracelets, partnered with fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages Evanston and screened a Ukrainian film about a Crimean Tatar family.

The organization uses art to engage with the NU and Evanston communities and provides opportunities to learn about Ukrainian history and culture.

Recently, Northwestern for Ukraine partnered with Ten Thousand Villages Evanston for a profit-sharing event. Fifteen percent of the store’s profits for two hours on April 9 were donated to Nova Ukraine, and students also set up a table to sell their own items.

“We had a lot of outpouring in our hearts for what’s going on with Ukraine,” said Michaela Dix, co-manager of Ten Thousand Villages Evanston. “It goes hand in hand with our missions in general with fair trade and trying to make sure we’re bettering people around the world.”

Inna Sokolenko, a first-year Weinberg from Kyiv, Ukraine and founding member of Northwestern from Ukraine, said she was grateful for the collaborative event and for the community outreach it provided.

“People don’t buy them because of what they look like, but because they want to demonstrate that they support Ukraine, which I really appreciate,” Sokolenko said.

In addition to raising funds, Northwestern for Ukraine also focuses on raising awareness of Ukrainian culture. By screening the Ukrainian film “Homeward” (“Evge” in the original Crimean Tatar), students had the opportunity to learn more about Ukraine’s history.

“People came to actually see the film and learn more about this part of Ukrainian history,” Sokolenko said. “It shows that people want to learn more about Ukraine — that they are interested and that they care.”

Raising awareness is a key goal for Northwestern for Ukraine — and utilizing art has helped raise cultural awareness and provide a means of solidarity.

“The situation in Ukraine affects me very much, but it doesn’t affect the Northwestern community as much. Sometimes I feel kind of isolated,” Sokolenko said. “Seeing the small signs of solidarity with Ukraine, that people remember, and people care, is a big deal for us.”

Audrey Hettleman contributed reporting.

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