Ukrainian Students find Solace

Three Ukranian Students Share their stories


Ms Lena Chikal, Denys-10th grade Kolesnyk, Ivan (Vanya)-11th grade, and Gavrylov, Grygorii- 9th grade

Erjola Lena and Students, Guest Authors

The Messenger staff invited Ms. Erjola Lena’s Ukranian students to share their stories. The below essays are in orginal form and not edited for grammar; we ask that you read their stories with an open mind and heart.

Siettarova, Amina – 9th Grade shares, ” I am from Ukraine, but I am a Crimean Tatar by nationality. In 1944, the Crimea was conquered by Catherine the Second, this is Russian empress, and decided to deport the Crimean Tatars from their homeland. Russians came to the Crimean Tatars at four o’clock in the morning and demanded to leave the house without taking anything . After that,all Crimean Tatars were loaded into animal wagons .They were there for 2 weeks without food and toilets. Many died on the way. It was only in 1992 that Crimean Tatars were allowed to enter Crimea.Before USSR ,Crimea was a country of Crimean Tatars . But after the collapse of the USSR, Crimea began to belong to Ukraine. We were not upset about this, because Ukraine has always respected our nationality. Our Motherland is located almost in the very center of Europe, and to be precise, the geographical center of Europe is located near the city of Rakhiv, in the Transcarpathian region. If you try to remember the history of our country, you can show that it has more than a thousand years. True, at first it was part of the state of Kievan Rus,which appeared many years before Russia was formed. As I remember, Russia arose because some residents of Kievan Rus did not want to obey its laws and fled to the eastern forests, where they built a new kingdom. Our Ukrainian ancestors were brave warriors, they always fought for their country, while the last warrior could still hold a spear and a mace in his hands.Ukraine is famous for its fertile fields, blooming gardens, endless steppes. In the south and southeast, it is washed by the Black and Azov Seas. In the west of the country there are mountains – the picturesque Carpathians. The highest point of the Ukrainian Carpathians is Hoverla. In the south, there are also the Crimean Mountains with the deepest canyon in Ukraine – the Grand Canyon of Crimea. I love my country very much. I love it not only for it melodic language, beautiful nature, cozy villages or bustling cities. I love that this is my homeland. This is where I was born and have lived all my life. I am sure: the Motherland, like parents, is not chosen. Therefore, love for the native land is unconditional and undeniable.

Since 2014, there has been a war in Ukraine. Russia attacks the territory of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia tried to seize the lands belonging to Ukraine. Russia started this war, it’s terrible. On February 24, 2022, Russia again attacked Ukraine. Now something terrible is happening. Russia is killing people! This not normal! The war has been going on for 284 days, people have been living in fear of being killed for 284 days. I will never forgive Russia for this. I am glad that I am safe now, but I am very worried about other people in Ukraine. I really hope that the war will end and Ukraine will win. It will be the best day of my life.”

Chikal, Denys- 10th Grade shares, “I have many differences with my country so I will tell you about that. In Ukraine we have different schools. We have 7 lessons every day, we don’t have blue, and days. Everyday we have a different schedule. Every lesson is 45 minutes, and after, breaks 10 minutes.After 3-rd lesson we have the longest break(25 minutes) . It’s like our lunch. But we don’t have free lunches like here, food is not really expensive but really tasty, and healthy!!! Maybe for you it is strange, but for me it is abundant. Also when we have a long break you can go to the shop by yourself, and buy something. I always bought sandwiches with tea and biscuits. We don’t have school on saturday, and every season of year we have holidays(7 days).

Our rules have changed since the war began.A week of online education is followed by a week of offline education. When we have an air alarm, all teachers and students in school must go to shelter. It’s sad but when I was there, it was okay for me. Sometimes we don’t have light and we don’t have possibilities for education. My problem sometimes seems like a disaster, but a disaster is when rockets fly overhead. In Ukraine school starts at 8.30 till 15.05. We don’t have school buses like in the USA. First time I’m not used to this difference but now it’s better.”

Kolesnyk, Ivan – 11th Grade shares, “Ukraine is territorially located in central Europe and is also the second-largest country in Europe. Ukraine has recently applied for membership in the European Union, which is in the process of being signed. We use two languages: official Ukrainian and unofficial Russian. As a result, we sometimes have problems, which frankly annoys me. Because people living in the western part of the country mostly communicate in Ukrainian, and during the war, they begin to discriminate more and more against Russian. We use Ukrainian in schools, institutes, and other educational institutions. After eleven years of schooling, we take the Zovnishne Nezalezhnoye Otsinovannya (ZNO) exam at the end of eleventh grade. After ninth grade, we have the APA as well. 

In Ukraine, there are three main modes of transportation: buses, trolleybuses, and marshrutkas. Subways are also available in some big cities. The mentality of Ukrainians is very different from Americans. There is less “excuse me, thank you” in our language, but we are very kind, generous, and friendly people. 

Also, in Ukraine, we can easily go for a walk somewhere, and we are not so much tied to transport, unlike the United States. My hometown Chernigov is not very large, but it is one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities in Ukraine, and recently we were awarded “The greenest city in Ukraine.” In my town, for example, I could walk to the center of the city in 20-25 minutes (one of the symbols of my city is a church from 1715 and 12 cannons from the XVI-XVIII centuries. Ukraine is very rich in ancient temples, caves, monuments, and more. Also, not far from my town is the famous Chornobyl nuclear power plant. “