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Fordham Student Fights to Bridge Ukraine/West Divide



Adriana Krasniansky
Contributed photo

When she’s not studying for her classes in marketing, Adriana Krasniansky, a junior at theGabelli School of Business, is devoting her spare time to an unusual interest: Trying to save her homeland.

Krasniansky, a native of Ukraine, helped found the collective The Group for Tomorrow’s Ukraine in November in response to the political crisis triggered by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of a trade agreement with the European Union.

She formed the group along with five non-Fordham students she grew up with in Cleveland. Through their website and social media, the group hopes to creatively and accurately relay events transpiring in Ukraine to an English-speaking audience.

Along with fellow Ukraine native Olena Nikolayenko, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, Krasniansky spoke at the Fordham at the Forefront of the Conflict in Ukraine, a panel discussion held on Tuesday, April 15 at the New York Athletic Club.

While Krasniansky was studying abroad at the Fordham London Centre at Heythrop College last fall, she got a text from a friend who “asked why I wasn’t in the Ukraine” in solidarity with her people.

“I said I have finals and I had work, and wasn’t able to go over, and he told me this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and its kind of our civic duty as informed Ukrainian-Americans,” she said.

Krasniansky, a former intern at the United Nations Department of Public Information and founder/director of her Ukrainian-inspired design firm, bread&salt designs, did make it to Ukraine in December, along with a filmmaker from DePaul University. Together they interviewed local experts and leaders—including Arizona Senator John McCain, who was visiting Kiev to show support for Ukrainians protesting Yanukovych’s actions. Their reporting from that trip is being made into a documentary.

In addition to sharing anecdotes of life in Ukraine and providing English translations of speeches and documents on its website, the group has commissioned some university professors to provide analysis of the developments there. It has also sponsored talks at three U.S. colleges on the subject.

Although the initial coverage of the group focused on the politics of the scuttled trade agreement, Russia’s recent invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula has shifted that issue to the background, as the territorial integrity of the country itself is now of concern.

For Krasniansky, who plans to return to Ukraine in the summer, the country represents not only her roots, but also an opportunity for entrepreneurs such as herself who have been taught at the business school to look abroad.

Part of what makes the country’s descent into chaos so painful is that “it’s one of the epicenters of development in our modern world,” she said.

A free and democratic Ukraine could be a catalyst for change toward a more democratic Eastern Europe and Asia.

“I’m a Ukrainian-American so I have a dual identity that is very hard to reconcile because, in the United States, we are so privileged in our rights that we often forget that most of the world doesn’t live with that,” she said.

“That creates a veil of ignorance around [these events]. So a lot of the task is identifying the veil, accepting the veil, and overcoming it. I think that’s a very important thing for anyone to do who works in an international sphere.”


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