As the Russian invasion of Ukraine dragged into its second full month, a student here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette came forward to offer a unique, emotional perspective.

Daniil Katerynchuck’s dream was to build his own jetpack, which inspired him to travel to America and major in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

He was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and decided to move to Lafayette in 2019 to major in mechanical engineering.

Despite the conflict that’s taking place in Ukraine, Katerynchuck described his life back home as enjoyable and family-oriented.

“My childhood was full of happiness, full of joy, and love and support from my parents. And I was the first child in the family. And I was born. My father is a lawyer, and my mother is a journalist.” 

Katerynchuck shared his hobbies as well, which began with him taking up swimming, to eventually moving to explore martial arts.

“In middle school, I decided to switch to something else for martial arts. And I started doing Taekwondo, which is Korean martial art. And I practiced it for six years, and I got a black belt there. And so, apart from like physical or mental strength, Taekwondo also gave me an opportunity to travel around Ukraine, and I visited cities like Leif, Harkey, Donetsk, and Dnipro,” Katerynchuck said.

He also shared the perspective of his social life back home.

“During my high school, I also for like a smaller rock band. And we used to play there I picked up a guitar, you’re my middle school and some of my friends played drums other plays bass, bass guitar so and also got friends from my taekwondo classes. So I had this circle of people that I know,” said Katerynchuck.

Besides the Russia-Ukraine conflict, there have been events that have formed Daniil’s beliefs. He explains how there have been two revolutions in which he and his family were involved in politics.

“For example, in 2006, my father founded the European Party of Ukraine, and it was a pretty big party at that time, and even had seats in the Ukrainian parliament. And this policy was promoted through forums that would increase the social standards of life of Ukrainians, and to lift them to the European level.”

Since Katerynchuck has revolved around political life, his own beliefs started to form.

“So since my childhood, I was involved in political life, and I often discussed the latest news with my parents. So that’s how my political use has been, have been formed and I have also been through two revolutions. And the first one was in 2004, which is called the Orange Revolution”.

As his own beliefs were forming, the second revolution began.

 “The second one was in 2014, and it was called the Revolution of Dignity. This is the main thing between these two revolutions is the main difference between Ukrainians and Russians because when people don’t like the government or they disagree with their government, they want to protest,” said Katerynchuck.

As Daniil was reminiscing about his childhood, he also commented on the current crisis that is happening back home, and how it is affecting his family.

“And now it breaks my heart to see that some of these cities are 50 or 75% destroyed. So I gave myself a promise that from every paycheck that I will receive now, I will donate some portion of the money to people that live in these cities and of course cities in Kyiv so that they can rebuild them and support their families. So that’s the promise that I gave to myself,” Katerynchuck said.

As all of this is happening, Katerynchuck is trying to find an internship along with a job that is related to his major. He is hoping to see his family who have fled to Germany besides his father, who stayed in Kyiv due to his age.