The email arrived at 10:11 AM on Thursday morning.

“Dear Ms. Schalit,” it read. “I just received 16 brief essays by 15-17-year-old lyceum students from Kyiv and its suburbs on what they plan to do after the war ends. They’re written in English, and the teacher says she only made a few minor corrections. They’re attached. Might you be interested in running them – possibly with a brief intro by me? best, Alexander Motyl”

I tore through the attached essays, even though I was in the middle of a meeting. Once I read them, I dropped everything I was doing and wrote back to Motyl, a scholar of Ukraine, Russia and the USSR at Rutgers University – Newark. He also happens to be a novelist, poet and painter, and I could tell he saw the same thing in these essays that I did: a fresh and direct account of the experience of war. It’s not something we’ve heard so far, and I wanted us to publish them.

Motyl leads readers through the students’ essays in “Ukrainian teens’ voices from the middle of war: ‘You begin to appreciate what was common and boring for you.’” It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but here’s one that combines innocence and a kind of canny outrage that seems entirely appropriate for these half-children, half-adults:

“I think that the war will be over when God says, because everything depends on him. Also when the President of Russia is removed or when all the supplies run out and all the soldiers retreat. When the Russian economy will be completely destroyed and the revolution will begin. When everyone will stop being afraid of the President of Russia and will oppose him.”

This week we also liked articles about the “Hispanic Paradox,” free-roaming cats and 529 college savings plans.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

A residential building destroyed by Russian army shelling in Borodyanka, Kyiv province. Hennadii Minchenko/Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ukrainian teens’ voices from the middle of war: ‘You begin to appreciate what was common and boring for you’

Alexander Motyl, Rutgers University - Newark

A group of Ukrainian teens writes about what they will do when the war ends. ‘The first thing that I would do is play the piano. I will play as long as I can,’ writes one.

Clues to solve the paradox have emerged from an unlikely place. Jose Luis Pelaez/Stone via Getty Images

The cheerful lexicon of the Spanish language may help solve a health mystery called the Hispanic Paradox

Maria Magdalena Llabre, University of Miami

The words that doctors choose during a consultation – and even the verb tense – can help or hurt a patient dealing with a difficult diagnosis.

Killer on the loose. Alex Walker via Getty Images

To protect wildlife from free-roaming cats, a zone defense may be more effective than trying to get every feline off the street

Daniel Herrera, George Mason University; Travis Gallo, George Mason University

A new study shows that when free-ranging cats are more than a few blocks from forested areas in cities, such as parks, they’re more likely to prey on rats than on native wildlife.


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