A University of Saskatchewan graduate says the opportunity to talk directly with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “nothing short of surreal.”

Zelenskyy held a video call with students from various Canadian universities, including the U of S, Universite de Montreal, the University of Alberta, Western University and Dalhousie University on Wednesday.

During the session, he took questions from the students, including one from Quinn Rozwadowski.

Rozwadowski was studying at the University of Saskatchewan’s department of political studies and has been following the events in Ukraine closely.

“As I am unable to directly help Ukraine, I have considered it my duty to at least stay as fully informed of the situation in the country as I can,” he told CTV News.

He said he submitted a list of questions he wanted to ask Zelenskyy and was informed by organizers that he was chosen as one of the students to speak with the Ukrainian president.

“I only learned of the exact nature of the event when I arrived and was briefed by the organizers, but I had been sincerely hoping I would have the chance to speak directly to him and was utterly thrilled to learn that I would.”

During the session, Rozwadowski was given some time to ask his question directly to Zelenskyy.

“As a young person here in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I am greatly concerned by the increasing self-centred nationalism and flagging commitment to promoting democracy around the world that I see here in North America,” Rozwadowski said.

“How do we fix this problem and convince our neighbours that the ideal of democracy is worth fighting and sacrificing for, even on the other side of the planet?”

In his response, Zelenskyy said his country was fighting for important values.

“This is what life is about,” he said. “This is about the right of choice, the most precious of what we have and the deepest sense of democracy. Your own right to choose for your life, and we are protecting this.”

Rozwadowski said he thought Zelenskyy’s talk was wonderful.

“I think his most important comment was that ‘this war has no distance.’ All of the democratic world is invested in this conflict, as its outcome will set a precedent for the ability of dictators to tread upon smaller neighbours, and I hope everyone who was listening will work to convince their political leaders to recognize this fact,” Rozwadowski said.

He said he plans to further his education and become a judge or politician so he can make a positive impact on the world, something that has been on his mind since high school.

“I determined I wanted the power to make a direct, powerful, positive impact on the world around me. From that point, the decision to pursue a degree in political studies and then study law came easily. I hope to eventually either hold public office or become a judge.”