Three Lessons from the War in Ukraine

03 March 2024

Editor's note: This story is one of the winning entries from the "Teach Us about Ukraine" writing contest sponsored by VOA Learning English and GoGlobal.

FILE - A volunteer carries a woman as she is evacuated from a flooded Kardashynka village of the bank Dnipro river, in Kherson, Ukraine on June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
FILE - A volunteer carries a woman as she is evacuated from a flooded Kardashynka village of the bank Dnipro river, in Kherson, Ukraine on June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

My name is Kateryna Denysenko; I work at the Gymnasium of Veselianka.

War is always a tragedy.

It ruined lives, separated families, and destroyed cities.

Like many life-changing events, war could also be viewed as a way to teach us important things. Thucydides, an ancient Athenian historian and general, once wrote, "War is a stern teacher." And today, we are going to share three important lessons the war in Ukraine has taught us.

Volunteer work and donations are important.

If there was one important lesson to share, it would have been this: volunteer work and donations are important!

Let's be honest. We often pay little attention when someone asks us to donate money, clothes, food, or blood to someone in need. We may feel that our help would be too small. And we spend even less time on volunteer work, thinking that it takes time and energy and may not be useful.

Ukrainians may argue with that. We understand that even the smallest amount of money can help to buy armor and weapons for our army. And the more people decide to help, the safer our soldiers feel, and the more protected the country becomes.

But you should not forget about people in need. If you donate your clothes, food, or blood to those who were seriously wounded or lost their homes, you will help them survive. Your small act of kindness will also help them save some of their resources to move on.

Volunteer work also matters a lot for Ukrainians. You can help by removing parts of fallen buildings or by cooking free meals for soldiers. Your participation will greatly help others!

If you want to do something, do it.

Sometimes, we do not say good things to others. We may be too shy to give a compliment. Or we do not know if the person will like what we say. Maybe, our words will be out of place.

Sometimes, we do not get around to visiting certain places. Who needs to spend their time going to a historical place, a park, or an old café? These places have existed for so long. They would not disappear, would they?

Since the start of the war, Ukrainians have known the harsh reality.

We know that you may never see someone again. They may flee to another city for safety, their house may collapse, or they can go to war and never come back. And the place you always wanted to visit may be destroyed by a missile.

We rarely tell our family members and friends how happy we are to have them in our lives. You may never have another chance to tell them how much you love and value them. But if you tell them something kind, your words will support and encourage them in such uncertain times.

That is why we remember the rule: if you want to say something good or go somewhere nice, do it now. Do not wait until tomorrow.

There is always a reason to be grateful.

Lastly, we take many things in our lives for granted. We expect to sleep well at night, eat healthy meals, have a place to live, and go to school or work. We get used to them so much that they become routine and even boring.

Before we know it, we are looking for something new and fresh and something unusual. But people in Ukraine know the value of routine and boring things in their daily lives.

When the noise from missiles keeps us awake, we begin to appreciate a good sleep. When we have to study remotely, or we lose our workplace due to the war, we appreciate the time with our classmates, teachers, or colleagues.

As we spend our days and nights in a bomb shelter or move far away from our homes, we begin to appreciate the place we live and the meals we cook and eat.

This may be one of the most important lessons from the war so far. We should appreciate these small, but very important things in our lives.

In his 28th song, Ukrainian songwriter Hryhorii Skovoroda wrote, "What you need is easy to get, what you do not need is hard to get." And now, after going through the war, and losing so many different things, we can agree that the simplest ones are the most important in our lives.

These were the three most important lessons from the war in Ukraine. We hope they will inspire you to value the simplest things in your life, to visit the places you always wanted to visit, to do small acts of kindness for people in need, and to show your love and gratitude to your closest people!

I'm Jill Robbins.


About the writer

Kateryna Denysenko was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. At the age of 13, she was forced to leave her hometown due to the invasion of the Russian Federation and move to the village of Veselianka, in the Zaporizhzhia area. In 2020, she graduated from the Zaporizhzhia Pedagogical College with professional qualification as a teacher of primary education and foreign language at primary school. Since 2020, she has been an English teacher at the Gymnasium of Veselianka.