In June 2023, with support from the Dickey Center, nine members of the Dartmouth Student Alliance for Ukraine (DSAU) traveled with faculty advisor Victoria Somoff to New York City to meet Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations.
The student's discussion with the Ambassador touched on the role of the UN Security Council with regards to the war in Ukraine, the role of Ukrainian activists on college campuses, and opportunities for students interested in careers in diplomacy.
The students gained insights into the humanitarian efforts of the UN in Ukraine, and the importance of reinforcing and reciprocating relations between allies. Ambassador Kyslytsya emphasized the difficulty of petitioning the Security Council, which is tasked with matters extending well beyond peace and security in Ukraine. The students said it was eye-opening to learn about the challenges associated with appeals for aid from allies in times of conflict and humanitarian disasters. They came to appreciate the importance of international cooperation, and heard about staunch political allies of Ukraine, such as Albania, that do not receive much international coverage.
The students also engaged in a productive discussion with Ambassador Kyslytsya about the image of the UN in Ukraine and beyond. They asked the Ambassador for his opinion on the recent backlash against the UN from Ukrainian communities because of its perceived inaction following the Kakhovka dam tragedy. The Ambassador responded by providing the students with data and information about the behind-the-scenes endeavors of the UN Security Council, and gave his own view of the importance of international organizations like the United Nations in global conflicts. The conversation prompted further questions for the students' to consider, such as the distribution of humanitarian aid, and the decision process involved in prioritizing beneficiaries.
Learning about the role students can have in advocating for Ukraine highlighted the power of grassroots efforts in raising awareness and promoting positive change. This reinforced the belief that the students' efforts on campus are indeed meaningful.
The trip left the students with a broadened perspective on the UN's role in the world, and a more objective view of the scope as well as the limitations on power held by the UN Security Council. Rather than reduce the extent of their activism, this new appreciation of the United Nations will help make it more precise and efficient.
Following the meeting with Ambassador Kyslytsya, the students visited the New York office of Razom for Ukraine, a non-profit organization that promotes Ukrainian democracy and civil society and raising aid for Ukraine. Sustaining fundraising efforts despite 'war fatigue' is a challenge, and Razom outlined for the students how the group's fundraising and advocacy has evolved in the past year. The students discussed with Razom the potential for uniting the efforts of organizations like DSAU across American college campuses.
This trip was a great opportunity for the DSAU to meet Ambassador Kyslytsya and the staff at Razom, and we return to Dartmouth with a fresh take both on the role of the UN as well as opportunities for us to pursue in our efforts as student advocates for the Ukrainian cause.