BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — With just the click of a Zoom invite, students at SUNY Brockport are getting a first-hand look at tensions in Ukraine.
It’s a collaboration, inviting Ukrainian students into their own virtual classroom.
Students from Ukraine get to sit-in and take part in discussion, through what’s called the SUNY COIL program.
“This is actually our first time,” said Steve Jurek, professor of Russian Politics at SUNY Brockport.
COIL stands for “Collaborative Online International Learning.”
Jurek is collaborating with Professor Lena Kovalchuk, who teaches at a university in Ukraine.
“I think our classes can help students with critical thinking, they have information from different sources,” said Kovalchuk.
At first, the course was going smoothly – until a major curveball.
“We were on track to do it and then war,” said Jurek.
Russia invaded Ukraine – and students who were overseas lost Wi-Fi, and all ties with the class.
Sophomore Justin Brewer says it was a period of major uncertainty, fear – and still is.
“I wish we could’ve had more time to be with the class, I was really looking forward to this program,” he said.
Thanks to tools like WhatsApp and Starlink, a few students have been able to reconnect with the class.
Both professors hope the students take away a learning experience like no other.
One they’ll remember; one that teaches them the importance of getting accurate information, and seeing the world from a different perspective.
“I want my opinion to be challenged,” said Brewer. “Different cultures are so important.”
“You can talk to your peers, your counterparts in eastern Europe that have the Russians on their border inside their country,” said Jurek.
The college is working a possibility to bring some students over from Ukraine, for a semester on their campus.