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A concert by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra in Cedar Falls raises awareness of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine



Cedar Falls, Iowa – A Ukrainian Symphony Orchestra performed on Sunday at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and some notable visitors were present.

“We have eight freshmen students who are international students from Ukraine,” said Adam Amdor, Assistant Director of Communications for UNI.

But these youngsters didn’t travel to Iowa to attend UNI. Out of the eight, seven came as exchange students from high school. Then, Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022.

Since the outbreak of conflict in her native country, Daria Gramotieieva has not visited her homeland. She talked about the moment she realized she would have to plan her future in America.

“I didn’t have a high school diploma during that time or anything. So I had to also figure that out,” she said. “It was just like a big thing, figuring out all by myself.”

During that period, Gramotieieva and the other students had to deal with a great degree of uncertainty and dread.

“I would say my immediate thought was like, ‘How can I help my friends?’’ said Gramotieieva. “My friend texted me scared…She didn’t know what to do. And I just told her like, ‘Go hide.’”

“This event itself, just kind of gives us a little bit of a magnifying glass on the situation, their situation,” said Amdor.

The pupils expressed their need for both the magnifying glass and attention from others.

“It’s not over. And it’s not getting better at all. Because I feel like people just forget about it now,” said Odee Shtefanchuk, another student from Ukraine.

“My town, just on eighth of March, was targeted. And there was a bomb in the middle of my town that fell. There were more than 20 people that got hurt,” said Gramotieieva.

According to the students, Iowans could demonstrate that they cared and that they hadn’t forgotten by coming to the concert.

“Even you coming here, like anyone, it’s already supporting us. It’s acknowledging that the war is happening. It’s acknowledging what’s going on in the world. And it’s really important for us,” said Gramotieieva.

Information on the Ukrainian Student Scholarship Fund, which helps these students pay for college, was distributed by officials at the concert’s reception. Further details are available here.