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Ukrainian academics

Living between two worlds

Today is the one-year anniversary of Russia's attack on Ukraine. We are profiling three Ukrainians who have come to HAW Hamburg as a result of the war.

They are all academics who dreamed of living and making a contribution in Ukraine, and who are now continuing their work with us here at HAW Hamburg. Although they are all very different, they do have one thing in common: They aren't here of their own volition, but they are making the best of their situation. They are continuing with their research and their studies – and doing something for their country in the process.

Dr. Maria Fedoruk

'It feels like I'm living between two worlds,' says Maria. On the one hand, there is her country, which is at war, and her husband, who has had to stay in Ukraine. On the other hand, there is her current day-to-day life in Germany: a job she likes, great colleagues and a place that feels like a second home.

Fedoruk is living in safety with her son and mother in Bergedorf. Her research project in the Faculty of Life Sciences gives her strength. Together with colleagues she is studying the ecological impacts of the Russian war in Ukraine.

Ukraine Nature research project

Prof. Dr. Vira Liubchenko

The Ukrainian Prof. Dr. Vira Liubchenko has been teaching at HAW Hamburg since the war broke out in Ukraine. She is glad about this, but she doesn't want to get used to it. 'My hope that the war would be over by fall 2022 did not turn out to be right,' she says. She came to HAW Hamburg in March 2022 and initially thought it would be a short interlude.

Prof. Liubchenko has been a professor of software engineering at Odesa Polytechnic National University in the city of Odesa, which has a population of approximately one million and is located on the Black Sea, for over 20 years. She has been teaching in the HAW Hamburg Department of Medical Engineering since March 2022. 'I don't feel guilty that I came Germany, but I'm not happy about it either. I know how my friends in Ukraine are living.'

The distinction she makes between 'your university' and 'my university' is pure self-protection, she says: 'Because if I start to see HAW Hamburg as my university, returning to Ukraine will be even harder.'

Anastasiia Fedyna

Anastasiia was among those Ukrainians seeking refuge who found a safe haven in Hamburg. Her dream is to become a doctor, which is why she began medical studies in Lviv at age 18 after graduating from school. Even after a year of war in her home country and a journey across Poland that ended in Germany, she still hasn't given up on this dream. On the contrary: she is currently completing preparatory studies in Health Sciences at HAW Hamburg's Bergedorf Campus.

Anastasiia is in contact with her father daily, as long as the situation at home allows. She also continues to be in touch with friends and fellow students who are still in Lviv. 'I would still like to finish my studies and graduate here,' she says. 'But I know that home is best.' 

Text: Katharina Jeorgakopulos