Two students at Norwich University come from very different backgrounds in eastern Europe. Yet right now, they find themselves with similar views on one devastating war.

It was February 24, Rodion Pedyuk was about to go to bed when he received a text. Little did he know this message would soon change his life.

“It said it has begun and my soul left my body,” Pedyuk said. 

Pedyuk was born in Kyiv. As a freshman at Norwich University, more than 4,000 miles away from home, he felt helpless.

“I cried that day,” Pedyuk said. “When war happens in your country phrases like how are you doing, became are you alive.”

Pedyuk said he had many sleepless nights.

“I had to check with my family because as they declared the special military operations,” Pedyuk said. “They started bombing Ukraine immediately.”

The first week of the war, his family was in Kyiv, but they left seven days later.

“Right now they are in a border city in Souvlaki I believe,” Pedyuk said. “I can say they are as safe as they can be”

Pedyuk said he is feeling guilt and anger. 

“On myself, because I am in that situation where I can’t go there and fight because I have to think about my family first and I have education here,” Pedyuk said. 

The President of Norwich University, Mark Anarumo said the school will do what it can to support their students.

“There are ways as Americans we are viewing the conflict that is going on,” Anarumo said. “We say conflict and the Ukrainans remind me that it is war, and for them it is war. We can learn to see conflict through the eyes that it affects most personally and be very sympathetic, empathetic and supportive to those communities.”

When the war started, Mikhail Verenov, a Moscow-born Norwich University senior, felt horror in his stomach.

“I don’t support it,” Verenov said. “I don’t like what is happening. I stand with who is right in this war.”

Verenov said he received a draft notice from the Russian military.

“I am considered a deserter in the Russian military,” Verenov said. “If I was on the battlefield that would be death immediately, but for me as a civilian it’s 15 years in jail. That is another reason why I would not return.”

When Verenov received the notice he said he felt terrified. 

“I don’t want to fight, those people didn’t do anything to me”

Pedyuk said Ukrainians won’t stop fighting until they win.

“I wish we win faster because every day, every minute and every hour is a life for our people and lives that we will never return,” Pedyuk said. “And lives that we will see in the graves and we will remember that forever.”

Norwich waived tuition costs for their two Ukrainian students and is allowing them to stay for the summer. They also started a fundraiser to help people in Ukraine.