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LAWRENCE, Kan. — There are more than one million Americans of Ukrainian descent living in the United States

Vitaly Chernetsky is a professor at the University of Kansas who was born in Ukraine. He came to the U.S. in 1989 as an exchange student before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While many of us watch the situation in Ukraine closely, maybe tensely, it’s so much more personal for him.

“I hope that American people see in Ukrainians, a friendly nation that is inspired by the American example and is worthy of empathy, caring for and supporting,” Chernetsky said.

Chernetsky is a professor of Slavic and Eurasian languages and literatures. But right now, the only title he’s concerned with is ‘son,’ as his father and the rest of his family are still in Ukraine.

His dad lives in Odesa, a port city on the Black Sea.

“I cannot persuade him to join me here where I could take care of him,” Chernetsky said.

Chernetsky says he sees determination and resolve over there, as friends who are writers and museum employees are now getting emergency medical training to help others.

“Folks are preparing the so-called emergency go bag with documents, a change of clothes, and maybe some unperishable food in case they need to leave home in a hurry and go somewhere to a shelter,” Chernetsky said.

He has a plea for people to stay informed and think of families like Chernetsky’s.

“My appeal is for folks to think about Ukraine, to support it,” Chernetsky said. “If you are a religious person, pray for Ukraine and peace there.”

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