Our University Lives and Will Live Despite All the Trials!

The Humanitarian Headquarters of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute was established on the basis of the Department of Educational Work on February 25, 2022 - the second day of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine. In these difficult times, it has banded together caring staff and students to provide with all the things needed the community supporting vital activities of the university, and people in the shelters; to help the university function, and to provide a variety of assistance to those in need. Vice-rector for educational work of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Natalia Seminska kindly answered questions about the work of the created team of volunteers.

- Natalia Valeriyivna, since the first days you have been comprehensively engaged in the organization of humanitarian aid. What did you have to take care of?

- I would like to note that only successful cooperation with colleagues let us manage effectively providing students, staff and residents of the area, who remained in shelters, with food, basic necessities, medicines, humanitarian aid; and help to support the life of the university.

Since the very first day of the war, the staff of the Security Department not only performed their duties, but also monitored the proper functioning of engineering networks in educational buildings. Employees of the student social service formed a community with colleagues from other universities in the city, and continuously provided psychological support as the number of people who needed help and comfort has increased many times in this hard situation. The work of the Kyiv City Student Clinic should be noted; doctors and all members of staff provided medical care to those who needed it even in the most difficult days.

Some members of peripheral and administrative staff were unable to come to work because of evacuation or being blocked in their homes due to the hostility. The cohesion of students, their ability to interact functionally was admirable. Due in no small part to our students we managed to ensure the functionality of the dormitories, none of which were closed even for a day; as well as the maintenance of order and security in the shelters.

Dozens of foreign students from different countries needed special attention. Their evacuation from Kyiv was carried out within a month. Employees of the Center for International Education helped to provide them with support at that time.

Our work would be impossible without the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Supporting Fund. Many good deeds have been done out of its funds. And it's not just about forming food packages for those in shelters, rations for employees who work almost around the clock, and providing medicines. We also talk about making bomb shelters convenient places to stay in. We needed heaters, multi cookers, kettles, utensils, household goods and much more. The Faculty of Management and Marketing provided significant assistance, the staff of which self-organized and created their own Support Fund.

- it stands to reason. And how did you get on with life in difficult conditions?

- Entrepreneurial talent of teachers of the Faculty of Management and Marketing solved  logistic problems  and helped to establish food supply chains. Later, colleagues from Ivan Franko National University of Lviv addressed our needs. Dairy Company Galychyna, Oleyna TM, Derazhnia Dairy Plant, Khlebny Bakery Cafe provided goods of their own production. Thanks to them, our, as they say, consumer basket was constantly filled. We were also glad to see a large truck from the city of Kryzhopil, full of vegetables and canned meat. All humanitarian aid provided, as well as purchased food, personal hygiene products, medicines, were sorted and distributed.

Searching for the range of necessary products  in Kyiv and deliveries of goods from retail chains and pharmacies to our humanitarian headquarters is not the whole range of our useful  daily activities. By the way, at the request of colleagues from Chernihiv and Kharkiv Polytechnic Universities, we sent them humanitarian aid and necessary goods.

Of course, cooking talents were also needed. Because a friendly team of volunteers, janitors, electricians, mechanics who worked without days off, almost around the clock, when the enemy was on the outskirts of Kyiv, had to be fed. Therefore, students with the support of the Student Catering Center provided free meals. Many thanks to the student volunteers from the 5th and 4th dormitories. Their help was very effective.

After the liberation of the capital region from russian invaders, we handed over humanitarian aid to the residents of Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka. We continue to do the same for residents of other cities affected by the occupation.

An important part of our work became the accommodation of families of students and staff who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the occupation or lost their houses due to enemy shelling. Campus actively participated in it. We managed to optimize the housing stock in the dormitories and satisfy all appeals, thus supporting the people who chose our university, and their families.

- It would be interesting to hear about the support of the academic community of the university.

- Yes, this is a very important area of our work. The staff of the Department of Educational Work introduced algorithms for attaching students to higher education institutions with the possibility of further recognition of educational outcomes, increased the number of partnership programs with foreign universities, expanded academic mobility for students, graduate students and researchers. All interested persons were informed through the DEW channel about the peculiarities of the university's work and the educational process. There is also round-the-clock information support with the help of a profile chatbot. In addition, the possibilities for obtaining documents on education, military registration and other types of documents have been expanded and provided. Social scholarships are provided to support the most vulnerable categories of students. Too many to name...

- Natalia Valeriyivna, although life in Kyiv is being restored and there is no immediate danger of capturing the capital, the threat of rocket attack on Kyiv has increased. What would you suggest?

- Given recent events, we can say that the threat of rocket attack has  increased, indeed. The shelling of residential buildings in central districts of the capital is a plain evidence of that. Therefore, I ask students, women with young children and the elderly people not to return to the city yet.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to many employees of the university for their help to our Humanitarian Headquarters. Among them are employees of the Security Department, the Student Catering Center, student organizations, specialists of MMI, FMM, IMZ, IEE, RTF, ESC EQMI, ICD.

Much has been done. Much yet remains to be done. Let's be optimistic: our university lives and will live despite all the trials.

Interviewer - Victor Zadvornov