Ukraine crisis: Ukranian delegates visit Valley to study education system

MESA, AZ - As the crisis in Ukraine continues, delegates from that country are right here in the Valley, explaining what's happening in their country.

Before the Russian military moved in, Ukraine was already a divided country. 

People living in the eastern portion of Ukraine identify more with Russia, while those on the western side of the country have a more cultural connection with eastern Europe. But, when a pro-Russian Prime Minister came to power in Ukraine, people started to riot. 

That's when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, decided to send its military into Ukraine. He says it was a move to protect Russians living in the region of Crimea. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have said they don't need Russia's help. But, Putin refuses to leave the country.

In Arizona, there's a school campus that sits on a street corner in Mesa. It has a unique program that one group of Ukrainians hope will bring life to a fragile country in a different corner of the world.

"This is full scale military invasion going on right now," says Serhiy Shtukarin.

The uprising and violence in Ukraine is reality for the prominent educator. It's where he calls home.

"People were brutally killed and basically snipers were shooting people in the streets," he explains.

He calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine unexpected and shocking, "People didn't know what they do, how to react, because you don't have this in the 21st century going on with the country you consider to be your best neighbor."

What's frightening, Serhiy says, is Russia's military is disguised as civilians, staging rallies to get Ukranians to support Russia's takeover.

"This is new type warfare," he says.

And while his people fight for their independence, Serhiy finds the strength to fight for their uncertain future by visiting the Valley to study our education system.

"By investing in those areas, as we have learned here, you can build a greater nation," he says.

He and other Ukrainian delegates toured the campus of East Valley Institute of Technology. It's a technical school with a unique model Serhiy says would be beneficial to a country once famous for its skilled labor.

"Not only do we have a shortage of skilled labor, but also the methods that we train our students are not fitting the contemporary world," he says.

And perhaps what they learn in the Valley will one day pave the way to strengthen a country currently on the brink of collapse.

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