(WHTM) — Lebanon Valley College has enrolled another student from Ukraine, the second since fall 2021.
Eighteen-year-old Roman Kolosok was living in Ohio with a family friend since a few weeks after the Russian invasion started, but in 2023, with his visa finally in order, he is ready for student life, joining his friend Max on campus for the spring semester.
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It has been nearly a year since Roman left his family in Ukraine, taking a bus alone to the Polish border.
“Nobody knew how long it will be,” he said.
Roman spent six hours crossing the border. He said he crossed with woman and their families, so officials did not realize he was traveling alone.
“It was really cold over there, every time the wind blew…freezing,” he said.
He finally made it to Warsaw and got on a plane to Columbus, Ohio, where close family friends lived.
“They are inviting you, they can host you for couple months,” he remembered his mother telling him.
Roman’s mother, father and two siblings are still in Ukraine, sometimes without power.
“For me, it’s terrifying, but for them, it’s just, I don’t know, they just, people get used to everything, you know,” he said.
After a few months in Ohio, Roman spent the summer at Hampton University, which offered free summer school for Ukrainian students.
“It seemed for me, it’s better to study and get a degree,” he said.
That is where he met fellow Ukrainian Max Lyshchuk. In the fall of 2021, Max, on a student visa, came to Hershey with a host family and enrolled in Lebanon Valley college.
“It was hard, but I went through it,” Max said of his first semester.
Roman had to return to Ohio because of visa issues, but in January 2023, he made it to the Midstate, ready to join Max at LVC.
“I’m looking forward for new connections, friends,” Roman said.
Both Roman and Max say they want to finish their degrees in the U.S., but when it comes to the future, they’re still thinking through their options. Max said he definitely wants to go back to Ukraine.
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“I would like to return and try to rebuild [the] country,” he said.
Roman said he is torn.
“From one hand, I’d like to stay here and help, go here and get some job and help my family remotely, but from the other side, I really miss my family, I’d like to go there,” he said. Roman said he worries about how long it will take the country to rebuild after the war ends.
Neither one said they were surprised by the length of the war.
“We know our enemy, how big and how powerful it is, so it would be stupid to expect that the war will end in two or three weeks,” Max said.
Both said they are grateful for the support they have received. With the community’s help, their host families have raised enough money to get both of them through college.
“I would like to express my gratitude for all of the support that we received…starting from Hampton University and everybody who supported us over there and for everybody throughout the year who supported and donated to the fund,” Roman said.
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They said it has also been nice to see the solidarity people have shown to the Ukrainian people.
“I mention that I’m not American, I’m from Ukraine, some people start to cry,” Max said.