‘As long as there are people there is hope’, said K. Sakellaropoulou to Ukrainian students who ‘adopted’ the AUTh
“The Ukrainian people have suddenly become refugees, a people in Europe – they may not be in the European Union but they are in Europe – have suddenly become refugees and that is tragic. The least we all owe is to help as much as we can.” With these words, the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou welcomed the Ukrainian students of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, whom she invited to meet in a cafeteria in the port of the city, for a relaxed conversation with them, to listen to their personal stories and record their problems. faced by them and their families after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Greece from the first moment took a stand, like the whole of Europe, the whole western world took a stand against the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Not only because it is a humanitarian issue that we have to deal with, because a country and its borders are affected. “but because at stake is in fact the whole value of modern democracy, the belief in freedoms, in human rights”, said Ms. Sakellaropoulou, noting that at the same time “for you it is your homeland, it is your homes, it is yours and what is happening is something much more intense and tragic “.
The President of the Republic urged the students to stand strong, expressing the hope that “the good will prevail in the end and all this absurdity will end soon, so that we can move on to the next day”.
“It is very positive that at this moment the Aristotle University is really close to you because it is clear that in addition to grief and pain there are practical problems and you have people next to you to take care of you, so you can look to your future, because “Anyway, it will end”, he pointed out, concluding that “you must be ready for the next day, to rebuild -all together to rebuild- what was lost”. “As long as there are people, there is hope, that is what we all aim for,” he said.
The Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor Nikos Papaioannou conveyed to the President of the Republic the issues raised by the approximately 100 Ukrainian students in the committee set up by the University, after the decision to “adopt” them by offering them free food and disbursing a fund to cover living expenses and their daily needs.
“As academic teachers we are obliged to embrace these children who will face various problems. They came to our country to study, to know the Greek culture and Greek culture means hospitality, beyond political and religious beliefs,” said the rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. to Mrs. Sakellaropoulou.
Conveying the requests collected by the AUTh from its Ukrainian students, Mr. Papaioannou explained that these relate mainly to procedural issues of the renewal of residence permits, the possibility of completing studies in Greece for students at Aristotle through the Erasmus exchange program, the possibility to work to earn extra income, as many of them now support their families in Ukraine. One of the proposals that the AUTh is considering, as Mr. Papaioannou explained to the Ukrainian students, is to give them the opportunity to work in University structures (secretariats, libraries) through reciprocal scholarship programs that work as a good practice in many universities abroad. .
The gratitude of Ukrainian students
The Ukrainian students – from Law, Philosophy, Medicine, Theology, Polytechnic, School of Sciences – with the exception of two who recently came to the University through the Erasmus program, spoke to the president in Greek, who are studying at the School of Modern Greek. Language of AUTh.
The discussion showed that four students have already managed to bring family members to Thessaloniki, but who either do not have the financial means to support their daily needs, or do not have space to host.
Typical is the case of a student of the Department of German Philology who four days ago brought to Greece her five-year-old brother and her mother and they all live together in one room. “We are sleeping three people in one bed. I came here on a scholarship. Now my parents have lost their jobs, we have no income, we have to live on my scholarship,” he explained, while the University has begun the process of finding suitable space for family accommodation.
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki covers the urgent needs of its students, ensuring accommodation either in student dormitories or in hotels with the assistance of the Hoteliers Association.
In another case, a student of the Department of Physics, hosts her friend, who was studying medicine in Ukraine and managed to leave the country. Now the student from the income she secures, from part-time work in parallel with her studies, sends money to support both her own family and her friend.
“What the university does for us there are no words to express. We feel that we are a family, that they love us, that we are an important part of this family,” said Xenia, a student of the Department of Philology, while Nina , a law student at AUTh from Odessa added: “We feel and have always felt the bond with Greece. We are saddened but the fact that we have this support from Greece and as students from our University, makes us feel that we are not alone and that’s very important. ”
“This help that Greece gives us and the spiritual help, is like the help that a mother can give to her child. We thank you and we hope that what we are going through will pass soon. I do not think it will ever be needed, but if it is needed and we will help you “, said a student of Theology, whose father is a priest and remains in Kyiv.
Communication of the PD with the Consul General of Greece in Mariupol
It is noted that Ms. Sakellaropoulou contacted the Consul General of Greece in Mariupol Manolis Androulakis, who is expected to return to Greece tomorrow and congratulated him on his high sense of duty and the conscientiousness he showed in his effort to help the wintering Greeks of Marios.
During the meeting with the Ukrainian students, the President of the Republic also had contact with the Minister of Education and Religions, Niki Kerameos, in order to immediately convey to her the issues of competence of the Ministry of Education, which were raised by the students.