Liz McCormick Published

W.Va. Students Talk With Ukrainian Family Fleeing War

Several West Virginia students from across the state got to speak with a family fleeing the war in Ukraine last week. They joined a video call with Ukrainian actress Alona Buznitskaya and her elderly mother and uncle.

West Virginia Schools for Diversion and Transition (WVSDT) Coordinator Kari Rice arranged the call through her brother Justin Grize who is living in Krakow, Poland and who is providing refuge for the family.

“This is a living history lesson that the students will never forget,” said WVSDT Superintendent Jacob Green. “Current events literally came alive when they spoke to Alona who has witnessed the war first-hand and had to escape a terrifying situation with her family.”

Buznitskaya and her family traveled from Kyiv three weeks ago. The 500-mile journey, that under normal circumstances would have been a day’s travel, took five days as millions of refugees fled to Poland.

The purpose of the lesson, according to a news release, was to give the students access to a learning opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Prior to the video chat, the students learned about the Cold War, European geography, and foreign languages.

“Our children are seeing what is happening in Ukraine to the tens of millions of people who live there,” said Rice. “From a practical standpoint, this lesson encompassed culture, history, geography, politics, science, math – all of the academic content areas. But most importantly, it helped our children to understand that real people and even children like themselves are fleeing for their lives.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.