By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Nearly 50 students, faculty and staff from St. Ambrose University marched on campus March 11 in support of the people of Ukraine, undeterred by brisk winds and the dropping temperature. The walk culminated a week of solidarity efforts at St. Ambrose.
Senior Laura Meloy of Bettendorf led the event. She recapped the experience of several St. Ambrose students who recently attended a model United Nations event in St. Louis where they studied the viewpoints of Russia and Ukraine. They learned about women’s rights, economic recovery from COVID-19 and tense relations between the two countries. While participating in the conference, the students learned that Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
At the end of each simulation before the invasion, Meloy said the students saw themselves as typical college students. After the invasion, the reality of the unfolding crisis had a big impact on their experience. They could walk away from the simulation. People living in Ukraine “can’t flip off the switch,” Meloy said
She said that more than 1.7 million Ukrainians have fled the country. “That is half the population of Iowa. That is half the population of Chicago,” she noted. “It may be cold here. But this is a small sacrifice we can do for the people of the Ukraine.”
Upon their return to St. Ambrose, the students who participated in the St. Louis experience felt compelled to host a weeklong solidarity effort. They organized a letter-writing campaign, fundraising efforts and a march to assist the St. Ambrose campus to find ways to support Ukrainians.
Nikolai Valencia, a student at St. Ambrose who is from Ecuador and whose mother is originally from Ukraine, said he and his family worry about members still in Ukraine. He knows the family members are together, and hopes for peace.
The walkers grabbed signs and walked around the campus chanting phrases such as “We support Ukraine” and “Get out Putin.”