An iUPrep Junior’s Connection to the Crisis in Ukraine


Natalie is second from the right, her sister on her left, and her parents on either side.

“It Takes Every Kinda People…”

Here at iUPrep, we’re fortunate to be made of a widely distributed student body with all different backgrounds, interests, and activities that make up life. While many of us live separate lives, we often find common ground in what’s happening around us, and our reactions can either unite or divide us further. In light of the Russia/Ukraine crisis, so many are wanting to attain peace and grasp it in a way that allows it to be a permanent fixture of society rather than a band-aid waiting to be ripped off. And sometimes, a certain level of peace can be found in educating oneself on global, current events. Something that junior Natalie Cisco has realized in full and decided to act on.

Natalie Cisco is a student here at iUniversityPrep just like most of us. She loves to dance and finds joy in her faith and friends. She’s stuck taking notes and powering through her coursework just like so many of us are, and she’s in the middle of one of the most chaotic years of high school. But amid normalcy, her story reveals a connection with real-world events that encourage many of us to get educated, to stop being ignorant to the world around us. To be global thinkers, not local ones. And in order to do that, we must start right here, at our school.

From the Beginning

There is much to be said about who we are, but there is also a story behind where we come from. Natalie was raised by her two loving parents, her father from Texas, and her mother from Kyiv, Ukraine. Her mother was born in Ukraine and lived there until she was 15 when she immigrated to the United States. Graduating high school and quickly learning the American way of life, she attended college at LeTourneau University in East Texas, where she met Natalie’s father. In the years to come, Natalie’s grandparents and parents would make their home in the United States and begin to raise a family. With such a diverse family background, Natalie may not have visited Ukraine herself much, but through her family’s history and heritage, she has been able to understand current events and not only witness them but relate to them. Having said that, the association with the current world’s events can sometimes bring about a sense of frustration.

“Ukraine will never be the same. My mom’s hometowns have tanks rolling up and down the streets, and her school has been bombed. I’ll never get to experience where she came from.” ~Natalie Cisco

Seeing that Natalie’s connection to the events happening in Ukraine is one worth remembering and noting, it’s about time we become aware of what’s happening halfway across the world to provide more context behind her words. 

History Being Made

Although we won’t dive into the nitty-gritty, the basics must be understood to fully grasp the significance of Natalie’s connection. In mid-late February of 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack on the neighboring country of Ukraine. The distress and shock that has swept through the hearts of the world, especially those of Ukrainians, has made national news and brought a new, solemn topic of conversation to our tables. We are witnessing history being written right before our eyes, as this sudden invasion of Ukraine has us taken all by surprise. But Natalie insists that this issue is not new, it is not something that has suddenly “sprung out of the blue”.

“This is old news. The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been there for at least a decade. The United States is late to this, but the history of rivalry between these two isn’t new.” ~Natalie Cisco

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia may be something that we as Americans are newly invested in, but once one takes a deeper look into the history between these two countries, it’s clear that these events are the results of old motives that are now being forced back into the global eye. And now that it’s been brought to our attention, awareness of the crisis helps us to process what this could mean, and the outcome could determine how this goes in the books.

All the Feels

To have such a deep connection to the situation in Ukraine also may come with deep emotion. Natalie knows that it’s not just her that’s feeling the sting of the crisis.

“My mom feels helpless. She doesn’t bring it up much, but I know it’s true.” ~Natalie Cisco

Although Natalie may have very distant relatives back over in the area, her main relatives are in the States; however, seeing how others react to the situation on social media can bring about a very real sense of frustration.

“Seeing people poke fun at the situation, looking at them teasing ‘World War 3’ really annoys me. This is a very real situation, and we as Americans can be so naïve sometimes. It’s so inconsiderate.” ~Natalie Cisco

Sometimes our democracy and the domestic events occurring nationally can draw our attention away from the international events, and this can make us seem uneducated. By taking a second to understand the situation overseas a little better, we can break the stereotypes that others sometimes put on Americans, and we can become agents of change ourselves.

“The impact of history is ever-prevalent right now. We’re living it, so we should know about it too.” ~Natalie Cisco

Worldwide Wisely

We can have all the knowledge in the world about the situation, but nothing can change the fact that the United States is an entire ocean away from the conflict, leaving us with very little we can do to help. But Natalie encourages us to keep Ukraine in our thoughts.

“We’re a very strong Christian family, so we believe prayers can do great measures.” ~Natalie Cisco

We’re in a school with so many different religious identities and backgrounds, so keeping Ukraine in our thoughts can look different for everyone. No way is incorrect, and without the differences, the world wouldn’t be as beautifully diverse. For those interested in prayer, this is how Natalie suggests helping the Ukrainian people.

“We don’t serve a local God, but a global one. Prayers for Putin’s pride to cease and his eyes to be open to what he’s doing would greatly help, but when it comes to Ukraine, we’re not just praying for their safety. We’re praying that they learn to step out in faith to find it.” ~Natalie Cisco

Whether it’s just keeping the Ukrainians in our thoughts and hoping for their safety, being sympathetic to those who are hurting, or bowing our heads in prayer, anything we can do to send encouragement across the world to Ukraine and Russia would contribute to the global spread of hope, something that this world needs. So next time a story comes up on the news that’s centered on worldwide events, don’t turn it off. Don’t close out the page. Keeping it open is what keeps us informed about our world and what’s happening.

And we do this knowing that with every new day, the world as we know it will only continue to change.