Ukraine – As the travesty in Ukraine unfolds, I cannot help but think of Symon, a fifth-grader I met several years ago through Rotary Club that attended a Henderson County school. One of my favorite activities as a Rotarian was “Writing Buddies.” Through this program, Rotarians are assigned a middle school student with which to pass letters back and forth through a journal. This program is designed to improve a student’s writing skills and acquaint them with leaders in the community that they otherwise might never meet.
Symon was my writing buddy. He is from the Ukraine. It is uncanny the things a young person will reveal to an adult through the seeming privacy of a journal. Symon told me how his dad had moved their immediate family to the U.S. to get away from the oppression and poverty they faced in that territory. He told me all about his family members here, and those left behind. Symon told me of his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other siblings, and about the hardships they faced in Ukraine. He told me how that after learning firsthand of the opportunities here – those family members dreamed of someday joining his family back here in the U.S.
That writing semester concluded with a lunch in the school cafeteria where, for the first and only time, I met Symon. I’ve since lost all contact with him. I wonder if he is still in Henderson County. I wonder if any of his family made it safely to the U.S. I imagine the fear and horror he must be experiencing at this moment if they did not.
Americans are watching this barbaric invasion with a high level of interest in the consequences it has on us. Young Symon is watching it with great fear and anxiety about what it means to his relatives. May God bless and protect Symon, his family, and the people of Ukraine.
Thank you, Rotary Club International, for giving me the opportunity to know Symon.