From Kiev With Love: What This Generation Should Take Away From The Situation In Ukraine

The experience of watching this world news unfold in Ukraine is nothing you can express in words. I have so much admiration for the people who have lived in this state of horror for so many months. It is an honor and a privilege to be here, meet these people and offer whatever small contribution I can to the movement.

Everyone I meet asks if I am scared to be here. I am not scared, but I am emotionally drained documenting the stories of the men and women who have given so much to fight for what they believe in.

In the United States and the European Union, we are so blessed to live in a state of freedom. We are so far removed from the sacrifices our grandparents, great grandparents and the generations before us have made to provide the bounty and security we take for granted.

The Ukrainian youth I speak with daily are closer to our grandparents' generation than they are to us. They have seen friends and family members die. There is a looming war against one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world. Meanwhile, most Ukrainians live on $300 USD per month and their government is bankrupt.

They do not waste time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They use social media platforms as tools to discuss the government, to plan protests and to keep one another up to date. We live in an extraordinary time in which these networks can give a voice to people who would never be heard in past generations. This is a unique time and we have just begun to see how influential these networks are. As you may remember from Egypt, Facebook was a critical tool used to bring down the 30-year dictatorship of the corrupt Mubarak regime.

I urge you to give a damn.

Know that it is okay to care about what you believe in. It is okay to be the only one who thinks and feels the way you do. Chances are you are not alone. However, you will never find out unless you put yourself out there by taking the risk or speaking your mind. You do not need to be in a country facing war to influence the world.

As young people, we have a duty to make the planet a better place for generations to come. We are the future and it is time we start acting like it. There is so much we can do together. Let our work begin.

Photos Credit: Vanessa Black