Utah organization gets Ukrainian children’s minds off war with daily Zoom classes

Mar 28, 2022, 11:28 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:40 pm

OREM, UtahA Utah organization is making sure Ukrainian children are not being forgotten during the war.

Since 2002, International Language Program has had hundreds of volunteers in Ukraine teaching English to young children. When Russia invaded the country, they had to pull the current teachers out, leaving a lot of them feeling helpless and eager to do something for their students.

Last month, the Utah County organization launched daily Zoom classes for the children to help take their minds off of the war.

“They get to laugh, they get to do games. They get to kind of forget about some of the things going on around them, you know, even if it’s just for an hour or two,” said Jared Hansen, ILP’s executive director.

They host about 60 Zoom classes every week, reaching nearly 80 Ukrainian children. 

Sisters Hannah and Rachel Saxey are among the 30 volunteers with ILP who once lived in Ukraine and are now teaching the virtual classes.

“It’s just a really good distraction, and they’re happy to be in class. They’re happy to practice their English,” Rachel said. “For the older kids, you can definitely tell some of them know what’s going on.”

Some of the children are joining in from all over Ukraine, while others are signing on from countries they have fled to.

“Sometimes air raid sirens are going off and they have to leave class,” Hannah said.  “Some of them you can tell are in a basement, in a bunker.” 

The sisters are doing the Zoom calls with some of the very students they once taught. They were anxious to help out in any way they could after hearing about Russia’s invasion. They jumped at the opportunity to host these meetings, and are hopeful they make a difference in the children’s lives.

“It’s just like one little thing you can do to help them feel normal,” Hannah said. “I want them just to know that people care about them and that they’re strong just for showing up, they’re brave.”

The organization’s executive director said as long as the children have an internet connection, they will continue the classes.

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Utah organization gets Ukrainian children’s minds off war with daily Zoom classes