“Unissued diplomas”: an exhibition in Tromsø highlights Ukrainian students who died in the war

By - March 12, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer

When I walk along the campus building, I stumble upon a line of photos with the young, smiling faces of those who just started on their life’s path. Reading their stories and about how they died, the general word “war” rapidly transforms into countless personal tragedies.  

“Danylo Prokopenko, 19. The National Technical University… Danylo was kind, sociable…”- the first picture I see reads – “Danylo died on May 4, 2022, in Izyum region after he suffered a head wound from an artillery shell”. 


Portrait of the student Danylo Prokopenko displayed on the UiT campus. Photo: Elizaveta Vereykina


Another poster shows a young mother of two little twins: 

“Ivanna Obodzinska, 19. Polissia National University. Garden Design. She balanced getting an education and being a mom… Ivanna died alongside her children on March 8, 2022, International Women’s Day, when two Russian bombs destroyed her house”. 

The portrait of the student Ivanna Obodzinska with her two children is displayed at the exhibition. Photo: Elizaveta Vereykina


As the war enters its third year, reading this reminds the viewer that the war is not just statistics; the victims are real people who had their lives, hopes, and dreams at their feet. The routine of daily frontline reports makes it easy for some to forget the human cost of war. 

In the Solhallen hall, where the photos are displayed, I met with Larissa Acharya, the exhibition coordinator at UiT: 

  “These are the stories of 40 students, who never had a chance to complete their studies and their diplomas will never be issued to them, because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. – Larissa told The Barents Observer. – “This exhibition is to commemorate those students, to raise awareness about the ongoing war, and to show the brutality and destruction the war brings.” 


Larissa Acharya, the exhibition coordinator at the UiT. Photo: Elizaveta Vereykina



The photos have already been exhibited in 110 places all over the world, 67 of them are universities. 

“And here we see just a fraction of the students which changed their classroom for a battlefield to fight for freedom”,  Larissa told the Barents Observer. “This is the price of freedom Ukraine is paying daily. These are young people, whose lives were brutally taken by war. We have to remember all of them, so they won’t become just statistics. We have to record historical righteousness towards their bravery”. 


The project coordinator Larissa Acharya says it is important to remember the names of those students. Photo: Elizaveta Vereykina


The exhibition was organized in collaboration with the Ukrainian cultural center In Northern Norway “Inspirit Ukraine” and the project team “Unissued Diplomas”. After Tromsø, the exhibition will move on to Alta, Kirkenes, Narvik, and Harstad respectively. You can find the exact dates and locations on this website.  


The portraits have been displayed in 67 universities around the world. Photo: Elizaveta Vereykina


Students of the UiT at the opening of the “Unissued Diplomas” exhibition. Photo: Larissa Acharya