Munich: in the first Ukrainian school, children break dishes against Putin’s war

Aid to refugees

In Germany’s first “Ukrainian school” children break dishes against the trauma of war

Wednesday 16 March 2022 | 21:47

175,000 Ukrainian refugees have been officially registered in Germany. Among them are many women and children. To support them both academically and psychologically, a lawyer and entrepreneur founded the first Ukrainian school in Munich.

“Last week the students didn’t know a word of German, today it’s different,” says entrepreneur Anastasiia Amosova. Ukrainian is co-founder of the first Ukrainian school in Germany. Until yesterday the students stayed in a hotel, today they start their first lessons in a Waldorf school in Munich.

After the outbreak of the war, a Ukrainian client of lawyer Christian Steinpichler told him about his desire to find a meeting place for refugee children from Ukraine. Two weeks ago, Steinpichler and Amosova discussed the idea of ​​opening a school for Ukrainians. No sooner said than done: initially there were 60 school and kindergarten children, the facility now takes care of around 250 Ukrainians. There should already be 400 students next week.

Experts support students in processing their trauma

Steinpichler’s circle of acquaintances made this possible: at his request, Heiko Grote, owner of the GSH hotel group, provided rooms in his hotel “Super 8 Munich City West” in Schwabing. Instead of the usual guests, young Ukrainians now run through the corridors with school backpacks. Feinkost Käfer, another project partner, will provide a meal during the lunch break. Six German-Ukrainian volunteer teachers organize lessons every day. Everything is still a bit improvised, but with passion.

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Mathematics, German, English and art are currently on the program. But that’s not all: “In addition to playing, laughing and painting, psychological support is also very important for our students,” emphasizes Steinpichler. Trauma experts from the “Emergency Pedagogy” association, financed by the Marion von Tessin Foundation, are taking care of it. This is for people who need physical and mental support. “They need a place where they feel safe and can process their trauma.”

“They leap at loud noises”

10:00, lesson begins. Amosova begins with the simple question: “How are you?” Students have a special bond with her. “They feel understood by me,” she says. Just like children, Ukraine has a family in her home country.

“The students are making great progress.” Now you can introduce yourself in German. “I see how they come to class with a smile,” says the real estate developer. “But then they go on break, look at their cell phone displays and start crying.” students think about it before going to bed, almost all respond with one word: war.

One of the things he has come up with is an exercise so that children can learn to cope with pain. Students scribble and paint the dishes with their worries, fears and wishes. They are free to express their feelings and anger at Putin’s war: there are no limits. However, children do not hang these works, they should destroy them as a therapy. “It might sound a little crazy, but it’s a very useful exercise in letting go of your negativity.”

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Group work is also on the agenda. This is important for students to feel safe. “That’s why Ukrainian refugees should first go to school together,” says Amosova. “If someone talks about their concerns, someone else agrees and feels understood.”

Teachers are urgently needed

After a week of school in the hotel, 200 students are now moving into the premises of the Munich Waldorf School. In the hotel there remains a nursery for the little ones. In addition, new teachers are entering, including some who do not speak Ukrainian but speak German and English. “In the long term, children and young people should be introduced into the Bavarian curriculum”, explains the lawyer, “so that they can be integrated into the normal Bavarian school system in the future.”

Help Ukraine

How can you help Ukrainian refugees? FOCUS Online’s relief campaign in Ukraine shows what’s possible. You can read all about aid to Ukraine here.

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The goal of the project: to create a school with its own headquarters, where lessons can start in September. The government of Upper Bavaria and the Ministry of Education have already pledged their support. “We could take a thousand students now,” says Steinpichler. Not lacking because of the accommodation. “But there is a lack of teachers”.

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