As the world cеlebrates International Day of Education, we want to share how education looks amidst war. Teach For Ukraine wants to remind you about every homework made with candles or light from the city board, about every ruined classroom and every destroyed school, about every child who lost their childhood, and about Ukrainian teachers, who are no longer teachers, but parents, guardians, lifesavers, evacuators, doctors and more of all fighters.
Since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale war, at least 3045 educational institutions have suffered bombing and shelling, – and 424 have been obliterated. Education was put on hold for the first three months of the war and is still to be revived in most of the country. Children were trying their best to keep up with studies online, but with blackouts, even that got almost impossible. Today, we want to tell the third of 3 stories of brave Ukrainian teachers, Teach For Ukraine fellows. Because who, if not teachers, are helping provide stability for children amidst war?
The morning of February 24th
I guess the war has started for me same as for everyone else. I woke up to the sound of explosions and roaring of the planes. We packed our stuff and left to our home city, Ternopil. I was trying to be useful, sorted medicine and humanitarian aid, helped to coordinate people, But then I realised that no one really thinks about kids. Kids who lost their homes, favourite toys and careless childhood. And that’s how we have organised ‘Safe Space’. It is a community of volunteers who is working with temporarily displaced kids in Ternopil. Since the beginning of war, we have already helped over 1000 kids feel like kids again. Right now, our space does not just provide kids with emotional support and entertainment, but also helps them to acquire new skills, such as 3dmodelling, design, photography etc.
This is how the war started for Nastya Luzhetska, 24 years old, Teach For Ukraine fellow, Arts Teacher in Kyiv region.
How did kids change because of war?
In the first weeks of the war, children became more responsible and involved, thus showing their opposition to the enemy. It was inspiring.
Over time, I wouldn’t say everyone got used to it, but they adapted to the new conditions, so the children became children again—little people who are lazy, bully, funny, and share fears and ideas. I need to understand where they get their strength.
How did the school change?
I went back to complete all the formalities (filling in the logs, applying for leave, finishing the semester), but there was no offline school at that time, only online. I remember how one day, an incredibly loud fighter plane flew by; it made me numb, but I quickly forgot about it. An hour later, I went to the supermarket and saw a column of black smoke. The fighter was hostile, as it turned out.
Lessons were often interrupted by air alarms; during class, students could be distracted by a loud sound and needed a few seconds to determine their safety level. After that, we continued as if nothing had happened.
What is your best and worst memory since the 24th of February?
The worst memory concerns the beginning of October and the first time we went to the bomb shelter with all the students. What worried me the most was the expression on the faces of my colleagues. Despite my best efforts, it expressed horror and panic, but we adapted to this. Now, no news in the vault causes such sharp emotions.
Now, when every time we go to the bomb shelter, the mood is different; it depends on the reasons (launch of missiles, drones, airplanes, etc.) and their number, the clarity of the algorithm of actions (which is improved during each descent into the shelter), whether someone brought board games with them, whether I feel the strength to engage with students in a shelter when you want to update the news every 5 minutes.
However, in the shelter, you can communicate more informally; there is an opportunity to discuss experiences, hopes, or desires, which is fulfilling. I really want to fill the storage with options for better quality pastimes (mobile projectors for watching movies, more board games) so that the time of air anxiety is transformed into the restoration of internal resources and warm communication.
The best thing in this war is unity. My colleagues and I organized the celebration of the last bell online in a TV show format. The singer MamaRika volunteered to congratulate our graduates without any reward or benefit. Last year, I could not have imagined such events.
БУДЬТЕ ЧАСТИНОЮ ЗМІН У КРАЇНІ, НАПИШІТЬ НАМ
Якщо у ваc залишились додаткові питання або ви хочете бути частиною прогресивного руху в Україні — обов’язково напишіть нам.