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The Flag Tying SUNY Cobleskill to Ukraine

Written By Cicero on 3/25/22 | 3/25/22

The Flag Tying SUNY Cobleskill to Ukraine

Former Ukrainian Student Shares Her Story 

By Timothy Knight 

COBLESKILL – As the crow flies, approximately 4,588 miles separate a solitary blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on SUNY Cobleskill’s campus from Kyiv, Ukraine; the capital city of a country besieged and invaded by Russian forces over the past four weeks.

Situated outside of Knapp Hall, the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine symbolizes the agricultural college's Ukrainian connection. Photo by Timothy Knight.






Although the European conflict can seemingly feel equidistantly close and far, Schoharie County has many residents of Ukrainian ancestry and multiple efforts have sprung up locally here to support the Ukrainian defense by means of advocacy and donations.

Recently, the Cobleskill Herald had the opportunity to interview Eveline Levin, a former SUNY Cobleskill student who is a Ukrainian visual storyteller and creative producer currently based in Boston, about the conflict facing her friends and family at home.

“I grew up in the heart of Ukraine – beautiful and historic city of Kyiv,” commented Ms. Levin. She continued on, “Despite living in the United States for the past eight years, I’ve always been proud to differentiate myself as Ukrainian. Now it’s true more than ever.

“Today, my family, friends, and everything I love are under the ongoing strikes of Russian missiles and ballistic rockets. The land I used to walk on as a child is now covered in blood, the air that used to smell like spring is now filled with pain and despair,” she commented.

Ms. Levin added, “Along with thousands of Ukrainian immigrants, I start every morning texting everyone I know “are you okay?” but what I really mean is “are you alive?” Born in Brooklyn but raised in Ukraine, Ms. Levin returned to the United States in 2014.

“On one of those days, I woke up to the news that my mother’s best friend, who she’s been staying with since the beginning of the war, has lost her entire family to a direct rocket hit,” recounted Ms. Levin. Her mom and friend then began an arduous process of fleeing the war.

They ran under air raid sirens and missile explosions to reach the train station by foot, meanwhile Ms. Levin waited. “For the next twenty-five hours, I was counting seconds till they made it over to NATO guarded safety,” she said before adding, “Luckily, they did.

“However, there are millions of Ukrainians who can’t make it out, and they’re the ones we can and need to help,” said the 2019 New Paltz graduate. Beginning college at SUNY Cobleskill with an interest in equine, she transferred to pursue journalism and filmmaking.

She encouraged donations to legitimate funds that organize centralized shipments of necessary items, including body armor, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid to the frontlines of Ukraine. “If you’re a business owner, think of ways you can use your platform to support Ukraine, and if you’re a consumer support the former,” commented Ms. Levin.

“Apart from monetary donations, try to stay informed, come out to demonstrations in solidarity, share resources with your circle and continue talking about Ukraine even when the Internet trend dies out,” she stated. Ms. Levin knows the power of advocacy, as although she only briefly attended SUNY Cobleskill, she left her mark by way of the solitary flag.

Ms. Levin explained, “Those who have been there, know the walkways between academic buildings are decorated with flags. It seemed like every country was represented there, but one was clearly missing – Ukraine.

“So before transferring to another college, I went straight to the administration and asked to add my country’s flag to one of the alleys. I didn’t get to see it until one day almost a year later, my friend sent me a photo of a Ukrainian flag up by Knapp building. It was a small thing, but to me it felt like the biggest victory,” she concluded.  

Years later, the blue skies and yellow wheat fields of Ukraine continue to grace the walkway near Knapp Hall; a reminder that our connections to the battlefield thousands of miles away is a lot closer than we can imagine. 

Story originally published in the March 25th edition of the Cobleskill Herald.

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