Unissued Diplomas: Exhibition at CEU Honors Lives of Students Lost Due to the War in Ukraine

As students cultivating their future fill the halls of CEU’s Budapest site for the Invisible University for Ukraine Summer School (IUFU) and the CEU Summer University, they will be greeted with the stark reminder of those young lives whose dreams will never be fulfilled. An exhibition, Unissued Diplomas, features symbolic diplomas issued posthumously to Ukrainian students – some who sacrificed their studies and aspirations for the sake of their country; some who died in the occupied territories, and some who became victims of Russian attacks on civil infrastructure – highlighting the ongoing price people in Ukraine pay daily for their freedom.

This edition of the emotional exhibition, presented by CEU’s Pasts Inc. Center for Historical Studies and on display from July 2-20, has been organized by current CEU master’s, PhD and IUFU students: Yevhen Yashchuk, Svitlana Dovhan, Oleksandr Ihnatenko, Nataliia Shuliakova and Olha Stasiuk.

In remembrance of Dmytro Yevdokymov, Unissued Diplomas.

Unissued Diplomas was initially inspired by a similar exhibition organized in Lviv in August 2022, commemorating students who lost their lives in the first months of the full-scale war. In January 2023, Ukrainian students from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy selected the 36 student stories which compose Unissued Diplomas, and called for international cooperation to bring the personal stories to university campuses worldwide.

Each diploma uncovers a personal story about an education, life goals, and changes in the past year of those who will never graduate as a result of Russian aggression on Ukraine. The diplomas share the stories of students’ lives, hopes and dreams – stories that in some small way keep their memory alive.

In remembrance of Iryna Dasko, Unissued Diplomas.

“They were people of our age or even younger. They traveled, fell in love, supported others, and studied their favorite subjects,” said Yashchuk. “We want people to think about the price of unprovoked aggression. The war is still going on; there is a strong necessity to defend freedoms; and students in Ukraine still need our support.”

Referring to the exhibit, he continued: “These students did not have such a chance, but we would like to give them a chance to be commemorated. This is the least we, while studying in safe Austria, can do at this moment.”

The exhibit, which is open to the public, will run in room 004, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and from noon-6 p.m. on Saturdays. An audio tour directed by Dovhan, which shared the student stories, is also available online to accompany the exhibit.

Unissued Diplomas was previously installed at CEU’s Vienna campus in February this year, and the exhibition has been displayed around the world, being featured within more than 70 university and activist communities, who synchronically opened the exhibition marking one year of the full-scale war in Ukraine.