USU Scotland Conference

23-24th February 2024

To mark the two-year anniversary of russia's illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Students Union, in cooperation with Glasgow Ukrainian Society, hosted a two-day conference bringing together 30 students from Ukrainian societies of Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Saint Andrews universities.

Day 1:

On the eve of the symbolic date, delegates gathered at the University's historic Chapel, a memorial site to the victims of the First World War, for a candle-lighting vigil led by Reverend Carolyn Kelly. After a soulful prayer to all the fallen heroes defending Ukrainian sovereignty, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University, Rachel Sandison, opened the floor for speeches from Consulate Diplomats of Germany, Romania, Poland, and Ukraine, Paul Sweeney (MSP for Glasgow), and other local supporters of Ukraine. On behalf of the USU team, speeches were given by Mariia Zolkina (Academic Coordinator), Danylo Nikiforov (Founder), and Maliek Banat (Chairman) before proceeding to the front of the University for a group picture as the campus territory was lit up in blue and yellow colors.

Mariia Zolkina giving a commemoration speech on the role of Ukrainian youth in resisting russian invasion

Day 2:

The second and final day of the conference featured a thought-provoking panel on Ukraine's Recovery and Reconstruction moderated by Mariia Zolkina (LSE) and contributed to by Nataliya Drozd (Dobrochyn Centre) and Oleksandr Pidhorniy (Chernihiv Centre for Human Rights), and Taras Fedirko (University of Glasgow). It was also followed by a brainstorming session led by the USU, where the participants worked in groups to present ideas on strengthening inter-society collaboration with Ukraine-based groups and international students. The USU family grew to 35 with the signing of a memorandum by Strathclyde University Ukrainian Society. The conference wrapped up with a scheduled protest at George Square in the city center, where delegates joined local organizations and society in a march for solidarity.

Maliek Banat (left), Yulianna Shalenyk (center), and Danylo Nikiforov (right) during MoU signing with Strathclyde University Ukrainian Society