NewsLocal News


Ukrainian goes from audience member to panelist at TU roundtable discussion

Posted at 7:14 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 20:14:31-05

TULSA, Okla. — An unexpected guest joined a University of Tulsa panel on Ukraine Wednesday. TU assistant rowing coach, Kateryna Klymenko, was in the audience to listen to the panelists made up of political science, psychology and media professors, but then ask if she could join the panel since she is Ukrainian.

After the discussion ended, I had a chance to speak to her about her family still in Ukraine.

Kateryna Klymenko simply known as Kate moved to the U.S. from Ukraine about 2 years ago, but she still has family in Kyiv.

When the first bombs hit, friends texted her asking if her family was okay so she started googling to see what happened.

“'Russia bombs in Kyiv' and I’m just like 'oh my god. that’s it. I’m calling my mom…' She was like 'yeah, hi' like in a normal mode. She was like 'yeah that happened' and then I just started bawling,” Kate said.

She says the first few days were emotional and hectic but the thing that calmed her down was when her mom told her it was good she wasn’t there.

“Because I have this type of personality that I would be on the first line with a gun and probably be shot first but it’s just like life lock you know so she was pretty happy I was not there,” Klymenko said.

She hopes to visit her family this summer but she’s not sure that will still happen.

In the meantime, she’s encouraging people to donate money to verified Ukrainian organizations, “because that money is not stolen. We have a very honest government right now. People are getting paid and at least can go to the grocery store and afford something to buy to eat.”

As for herself, She says she’s stopped checking the news every 10 minutes and doing this instead, “sometimes you just have to be strong and hope for the best.”

Kate also encourages people to share verified pictures and videos of the situation in Ukraine on social media to help people understand what it’s like there.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --