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The Power of Photography in Highlighting the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

kevin wang

Kevin Wang, MEPP '221. What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS?I did my undergraduate studies in international affairs at GW, so I have always been aware of the weight that the SAIS brand has in the international relations community. In addition, many of my colleagues have studied at SAIS and can highly recommend it.2. What were you doing before attending the school?I was an intern at the IMF and the UN, then I worked at USAID.3. What program are you in and what do you hope to gain from it?I am currently in the MEPP. I grew up in both the US and China and was hoping to get a European perspective and a deeper understanding of EU integration, institutions, and laws, which I have lacked.4. Why did you choose to go to Ukraine? What are some of the things you saw? You felt?As a master student in European Public Policy and being only two- and half-hour flight away in Bologna, I felt impelled to see the atmosphere of the city in an hour of uncertainty. I felt very welcomed as a visitor and felt people were almost grateful for my presence, there was no sense of panic; they were determined to lead their normal lives. The atmosphere was calm, and the coffee shops and bars were quite vibrant. There was a certain theme of grace under pressure at the time I was there, but everything has changed now. Being in a city and feeling its calmness ten days before it was bombed really opened up some new perspectives for me, both in geopolitics and philosophy. It is very sad to see these young people I interviewed, who faced the threat of war with a certain nonchalance at the time, documenting firsthand on social media their 40-hour train ride to the Polish border and their participation in territorial defense without any former military training. It breaks my heart to know that my photos might be some of the last photos in Kyiv in a time of normality. I have done my best to stay in touch with them and hear their updates, but overall, no one, including me, expected a full invasion to happen.5. What do you hope the school, the country, and world should do for the Ukrainian people? Feel free to share any message on their behalf.I think the school could start a scholarship/fellowship for Ukrainian students and cultivate the next generation of leaders.6. Why did you choose to highlight your project through photos? Why do you believe photos are such a powerful medium?I have been taking photos for quite a while now and have published something before. Photos are extremely powerful because they communicate so directly. Photos are also deeply subjective and can directly inform what I saw and felt or sometimes provoke a discussion.7. What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate?I hope to work at a development bank or in political risk. However, after this trip, I am also actively looking for an opportunity to work on the ground this summer on the current refugee situation in Ukraine's neighboring countries.

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