October 4, 2023

Within the previous days there have been caps, clothes and canapés, however Mariupol State College may solely supply a simplified Thursday ceremony for the 2023 commencement at its exiled campus almost 400 miles from its ravaged hometown.

Of the five hundred graduates, solely about 60 have come right here to Kyiv to choose up their diplomas in individual on the college’s new constructing, which remains to be beneath building. The remaining, if attainable, took half on-line, scattered by the battle all through Ukraine and overseas.

It was a bittersweet second for the graduates of Mariupol, a metropolis that grew to become synonymous with the brutality and destruction of battle earlier than it fell to a Russian invasion final 12 months. Even in digital kind, the college gave the sensation of transferring in the direction of one thing past the battle and an oasis from the cruel realities that they’d all seen and felt that have been by no means forgotten.

Valeriya Tkachenko, 21, continued her research in ecology and schooling, even though her husband Vladislav was present process therapy and rehabilitation after shedding his leg within the battle for Azovstal, the huge metal plant the place the defenders of Mariupol surrendered for the final time earlier than capitulating in Could 2022.

“It was very tough to pay attention, however our classes distracted from the battle; I may even say, a sort of salvation, ”she stated.

Karolina Borovikova, 23, went on an alternate program to Italy 4 days earlier than the invasion and stayed there, whereas her husband Nikita stayed in Mariupol and in addition fought within the battles for Azovstal. On Thursday, she obtained her bachelor’s diploma in historical past and grasp’s diploma in Italian translation, however Nikita wasn’t there. He’s a prisoner of battle in Russia and has not been heard from since Could.

“On daily basis I dream of the primary day we’re reunited and I take into consideration how I might help him get by way of the ordeal he’s now going by way of,” she stated as tears streamed down her face. “I do not know easy methods to assist him, and I do not know easy methods to get him out of there.”

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