Dear partners, prospective and current students,
We hope this email finds you well as spring is starting in Brno. The events of the last few weeks, marked by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have been hitting our diverse international community in different ways; however, it is essential to emphasize that all of us here in Brno are as safe as if we were in Berlin, Milan, London, or Paris. While the ongoing Russian assault on Ukraine is horrifying and scary, the safety in Brno remains unchanged from before, although we know that our location can feel close when looking at a map.
Thus far, the university has been clear with our support to Ukraine and its people. Each of our students has different lived experiences; some may come from countries that have experienced war, some may have families who have escaped similar situations, and some may just have watched such events from afar in the past without expecting to see their effects so close. However, we want to emphasize that the main impact we anticipate seeing around Brno and in the whole country is a larger Ukrainian population trying to find a safe haven and refuge from the atrocities caused by invading Russian troops. Ukrainians made up the largest expat group in the Czech Republic in the last census, and thus it makes sense for new arrivals to travel where they have a community.
Our teams at the Centre for International Cooperation and at Masaryk University are prepared to make sure that visiting students and faculty have a safe and enjoyable time with us. Students can reach out to us, and our emergency numbers are available, as they have been for years, for any students who need it. However, I am happy to share that from our interactions with students, their day-to-day experience remains unchanged, and we enjoy seeing students enjoying their time abroad, especially now that most Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.
While the Czech Republic is reacting strongly, due to the nation´s history with invasions in 1938 by Hitler and 1968 by the Soviet Union, our concern now is for Ukraine. Our memberships in both NATO and the European Union provide us with the assurance, support, and security we did not have in 1938 and 1968; the experience of Ukraine shows the significance of these memberships. Additionally, it is essential to stress the historical differences between Ukraine and the Czech Republic: even under the communist rule (1948-1989), Czechoslovakia never was part of the Soviet Union. Putin’s claim – which we cannot stress enough is a fabricated and criminal claim – is that Ukraine was once part of Russia and should be so again. This claim can never be said of the Czech Republic.
Since 2015, Brno has been regularly ranked one of the ten safest cities in the world, and even now, under these tragic circumstances, the Czech government is firm in assuring there is no direct threat from Russia to our territory.
We hope you will continue to join us in the future for a semester or summer school, and for those currently here, we hope that Brno continues to feel like a second home.
Wishing you a fruitful spring,