Speaker makes ‘serious statement’ with trip to Ukraine


“Wow,” said Tsymbal, “amazing!”

As first reported in a UVA Today story on June 7, Small, in an act of solidarity with a country he visited nearly 30 years ago, arranged through the Kyiv School of Economics to teach a course — pro bono — on its campus. That meant cutting short a vacation in Spain, jumping on a plane to Warsaw, Poland, and then traveling 14 hours to Kyiv on a bus with no toilet. Speaking about his students ahead of his first class, Small told UVA Today he just hopes “to be worthy of their time.”

This mission seems accomplished.

“I think it’s a much stronger message of solidarity than we even have from the President of the United States,” Tsymbal said, “because it’s easy to show solidarity with someone from a distance. But taking such lengths and changing your schedule and just changing your plans and taking such risks is a very serious statement.

Tsymbal was one of 26 students who took Small’s “Data-Driven Publishing: Reproducible Research with R, Quarto, and Github” course, which introduces the tools and concepts of literary programming. Filled with lectures and presentations, the course setup was not unlike most courses at the college level.

Except, well, for the class session that took place inside an air-raid shelter.

It happened on June 14, when air raid sirens forced Small and company into the school’s basement.

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