Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ukrainian Youth: Which Activities Are They Keen On and What Distracts Them from War? 

Photo by Steve Johnson via Pexels

Last updated on July 17, 2023

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the Holos Project, a four-way partnership (ENGin, The Los Angeles Times Insider, Published Points of View, The Outspoken) established to empower the voices of Ukrainian students across the world through one-on-one journalism mentorship. This article was written by Arina Beschastnova from Ukraine with the mentorship of Frankie Smith from the United States. “Holos” is the Ukrainian word for “Voice”. 

During the war, Ukrainian teens didn’t fall into despair. Instead, they are developing their skills and strongly wish to share their interests and hobbies with the world. The war between Russia and Ukraine has certainly been one of the most high-profile and critical  incidents in 2022, continuing through the present. The name of the invaded country has been rattling across the globe, frequently showing up on top news headlines and media outlets. For that reason, pretty much everyone is now aware of constant bombings, both rocket and civilian attacks, and even more horrible things happening inside Ukraine. In fact, the war is still going on. Undoubtedly, it has left a huge imprint on the lives of Ukrainian citizens. The majority were forced to leave their homes, some people even lost them. According to statistics, around 18 million people left the country at the beginning of the invasion. This includes nearly 4 million children, which is more than half of the country’s child population. As a consequence of moving to other countries, lots of Ukrainian students were forced to switch their schools. This caused a significant reduction in the number of Ukrainian school pupils and caused closure of a bunch of children’s sport clubs, art centers and the limitation of other after-school activities. It is needless to say that such a sudden change of situation greatly impacted the emotional state of students as well.  

Constant missile attacks and air alerts to separation from loved ones for an undetermined time led to the accumulation of mental illnesses, some of which are depression, anxiety disorders, isolation, and even PTSD. The World Health Organization states that about a quarter of Ukraine’s population may suffer from mental health problems. Unfortunately, the youth are extremely susceptible to the influence of such disorders, especially if communication among teenagers is minimal. In the present conditions, it really is: the vast majority of schools and colleges are now on remote studying, which significantly reduces  interaction between students. Specifically, my school has been stuck in distance learning for over a year. Teens in Ukraine carry out certain activities to cope with sadness and stress. I asked several members of my school to tell me about their hobbies, discovered how they spend leisure and even received some pastime suggestions!

Despite the current difficult military situation in the Zaporizhzhia region, many citizens still reside there and don’t plan to move abroad. When they want to switch off the saddening news channels, some find salvation in movies and films. Iryna Prylypota, a 9th grader, says that films help her to feel calm and reduce negative emotions. Regarding her favorite film, Iryna said “I’ve been particularly keen on Game of Thrones lately.” While she is focused on the movie storyline, Iryna allows herself to tune out the external world, fully immersing in the movie itself. However, watching films in conditions of war can be difficult due to frequent power outages. Iryna is a huge book fan, specifically fantasy novels.  She agrees that art and creativity are real helpers in the fight against stress. She said “Sometimes I draw and paint, but not as often as I used to before.” 

However, many residents of Zaporizhzhia left their homes in search of refuge. Kateryna Erofeeva, who is a 9th grader, is now based in Canada and attends school there. She believes that communication is a good source of happiness. “I attend many events in my school, such as dancing and diverse competitions. I also try not to stay home for too long, otherwise, I find myself thinking about bad things,” Kateryna said. Just like Iryna, Kateryna is a big fan of drawing. She creates amazing portraits of people. Kateryna thinks that this activity brings a lot of positivity into her life. 

School closures also affect teachers and their job positions. Due to lots of people leaving Ukraine, job offers appear daily. Teaching positions are in high demand, therefore tutoring is of incredible value. Teachers work promptly and diligently, so they may be fairly named as heroes of our time.  

Hanna Volodymyrivna, a geography and homeroom teacher in one of the Zaporizhzhia schools, shared her experience of tutoring during the war. “Honestly, in the first month of the war, when we didn’t study at all, one could literally go mad. But things got better when work finally began and people started to dive into it.” Regarding the importance of hobbies, Hanna Volodymyrivna said, “Hobbies are great, but it is crucial to have actual commitments. Obligations keep people in line and don’t let them lose motivation.” She also gave useful advice on how to deal with anxiety. “You must constantly be doing something. Don’t ever sit still- carry out your duties instead. For me, it’s my work. For students, it might be their homework and household chores. The main thing is to accomplish what you’re meant to  accomplish.” Hanna Volodymyrivna also thinks that communication is truly important. She revealed that she has felt lonely and depressed, but whenever she holds a lesson and talks to students, her mood is immediately lifted. “If there is such a possibility, share your happiness with others!”

As far as we can see, Ukrainians have a lot of hobbies. They are really interested in sharing them and are ready to look for new ones. Being inventive is important, because it not only improves your mindset, but can also help others. Imaginative and creative Ukrainians will help the country become better and reach its new level. 

Some of Arina’s paintings:

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: