Writers: Ruby H. & Zoe M.
On Saturday, April 15, a full auditorium was full of excitement, fear, and eagerness. The song Peace Salaam Shalom (Peace through all People) was playing. People were slowly coming in as seats started to fill up. Some opened their laptops, reviewing speeches, while others were reading newspapers. Others were just chilling and talking with their friends. The lights dimmed as the first speaker started to speak.
Darby Sinclair, co-director of TASMUN, kicked off the conference by saying, "I am so excited for you guys to be back with us." She then introduced the first guest speaker, Olek Shyn. "My ancestors don't appear to be Korean. However, they "are" Korean. He displayed a photograph of his ancestors. "In 1937, they were deported. I then traveled to Syria to assist. "I had no idea what war was like." A picture on the huge screen showed him educating children in a school. All of the kids were smiling like they were extremely grateful that someone was there to teach them.
In February 2022, he contacted his mom and said, “Mom, wake up! The Russians are on the attack! "We felt helpless," he said directly. Because he and his family had been through so much, the tone instantly became depressing. He had been to Syria to help others, adding, “I never knew what they were feeling.” Then, he expressed hope. The entire room felt like it was filling up with it. "They are fighting, but we are resisting." His speech definitely made an impact on some people.
The next guest speaker was Alex Khomenko. He was born in Ukraine and has strong feelings about what was going on in his country. “This is how activism happens. Anyone can do it.” He soon moved to Taiwan. In the auditorium, everyone was listening intently, holding onto his every word. He began to start a protest on a corner by Taipei 101. However, nobody showed up. As the days went on, he continued to protest on the same square, and more and more people eventually showed up. The way he explained it made everyone want to go and protest with him. “We made a Ukrainian Community, even though we weren't all Ukrainians. Some people that came were allies.”
On March 13, they made a big decision. They were going to march. 1000+ people came out to march and support. “Our people will continue standing,” he said. He did not stop here. On April 17, they did a die-in for the Vyshyvanka holiday. It caused a big commotion in Ukraine, even on TV. It made Mr. Khomenko feel like he had made a difference. On May 8, they had a victory rally showing that Ukraine will stand. “ We are ordinary people who have a desire and an opportunity to do something.” The room erupted with applause. Everyone enjoyed his presentation, and the room seemed warmer, knowing something was being done. Everyone was discussing what Mr. Khomenko stated as they walked out.