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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Suffolk students attend Ukraine protest in Poland

Courtesy of Niamh Walsh
Demonstrator attends a protest in Warsaw, Poland, protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cardboard signs donned cries for peace in Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and English. Bright blue and yellow decorated the sidewalk as Ukrainian flags waved in the wind. Chanting, cars honking and motorcycles revving their engines sound tracked the scene. 

The demonstration outside Poland’s Russian Embassy “was extremely powerful,” said Suffolk University junior Niamh Walsh.

Walsh and junior Marah Fitzgerald are spending the spring semester studying at Suffolk’s campus in Madrid. They had planned their trip to Warsaw, Poland weeks ago. 

Friends and family expressed their concern about the students traveling somewhere so close to Ukraine with a conflict on the horizon. Walsh and Fitzgerald were closely watching the news to see if there was any reason they should avoid Poland. They didn’t find any. 

The two traveled to Warsaw on Feb. 25, the day after Poland’s neighbor, Ukraine, was invaded by Russia. 

“[We thought], ‘We already have our tickets booked, let’s just go,’” said Walsh.

They planned on going about their normal tourist habits. On their first night of the trip while looking for dinner, they saw a demonstration and knew they wanted to show their support. 

“We figured if there’s one protest, we’re sure there will be others for the next few days at least,” said Walsh. 

Traveling by tram to St. Jan III’s Palace the next day, they noticed all the people packed into the tramcar. At once, nearly everyone left at one stop, which they thought was strange. 

“We passed by the Russian Embassy without really realizing it and there were a ton of people outside with Ukrainian flags, and so Niamh and I kind of just looked at each other like, ‘so we’re getting off at the next stop,’” said Fitzgerald.

This was it. They got off the tram at the next stop and walked back. 

“We thought, ‘Forget about the palace, we don’t really care about that now,’” said Walsh.

They bought two Ukrainian flags and joined the group. 

“There were a couple times where it felt like I was tearing up a little bit because it was amazing to see the people coming out and how immediate the response was following the invasion … I wanna say it was almost prideful, because the people there were either from Ukraine or related to people from Ukraine,” said Walsh. 

The students saw two women who they believed could be mothers who moved from Ukraine to Poland. They were carrying large, weathered Ukrainian flags. 

“That was the only thing that kind of made me tear up a little bit. Because we were so close to Ukraine, there’s probably a good amount of people in this crowd that have family there and have friends there,” said Fitzgerald. “I can’t even relate to that experience because I don’t know anybody there. It’s jarring.” 

This protest happened on the same day that about 100,000 Ukrainian refugees arrived in Poland

Walsh and Fitzgerald said the demonstration in Poland felt different to protests they had seen in the United States, and Boston itself. 

“It was not violent. It wasn’t really rambunctious or anything like that,” said Walsh. “I wouldn’t even really consider it a protest. I would’ve considered it a demonstration of solidarity and support.”

Walsh said she has been posting resources for information and places for people to donate money and supplies on her social media accounts. 

“I have personally sent some supplies myself. One of my old coworkers is from Ukraine and his whole family is from there … I felt like it was the least I could probably do,” said Walsh.

“[Fitzgerald] has been really invested in this long before I was,” said Walsh. 

As a journalism major, Fitzgerald said she tends to read the news more frequently than some of her friends. Back in December, with her semester in Europe coming up, she was starting to hear about the conflict. 

“I read more about what was going on there and it freaked me out. The way I was coping with that was talking to my friends about it, so that’s kind of how they ended up hearing about it,” said Fitzgerald. “For a while, they were saying I was the only person that they were hearing about it from.” 

This protest was another way for them to show their solidarity with Ukraine. 

“We felt like we should participate somehow. We felt almost obligated to,” said Walsh.

Both Fitzgerald and Walsh said they want to attend more demonstrations, but it depends on if there are any opportunities for them. They also encourage their fellow students to attend these demonstrations, and support the Ukrainian community.

“I know there’s a lot of people going to the rallies in Boston…I would just say, [I] encourage people, just really go out and support. If you can’t donate, even just showing support is important,” said Walsh. 

“There are things in history that have been changed by protest, so they do have an impact,” said Fitzgerald.


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Emily Devlin
Emily Devlin, Managing Editor | she/her
Emily is a senior print/web journalism major and art history minor at Suffolk University. She loves traveling around Boston from museums to sports games. History is a significant interest of hers and she spends her free time wandering around the MFA, reading, writing, and listening to music. After college Emily hopes to work in a museum. Follow Emily on Twitter @emrodev Email her at [email protected]
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Suffolk students attend Ukraine protest in Poland