13 Ukrainian children are studying in Wusterwitz

The war against Ukraine changed her life. 13 children had to leave their homeland in Ukraine and experience their first moments in the primary school of Wusterwitz.

Ukrainian children learn in Wusterwitz primary school

A new adventure begins for boys and girls. For them, school is still a mysterious place that they first need to know.

“This building is huge and first I have to orient myself. The other children look at me and seem to have a lot of questions. I hope we can talk to each other soon and then get to know each other better, “says Polina, a fifth grade student.

As the twins Ostap and Lukian Magas look carefully around the elementary school dining room during the presentation by director Heike Ohsamnn, Vladislav Bozhok is already joking and finds a new friend in Volodymyn. They both want to learn new words as fast as possible and play soccer with other children.

Principal Heike Ohsmann and her team help Ukrainians in their integration. Children are amazed when the teacher introduces himself in Russian as the school principal, because they understand it immediately. Ohsmann points out that the German language is the biggest challenge in children’s daily school life.

The consequences of the war weigh on the Ukrainians in Wusterwitz

“New elementary school students want to talk to everyone, this is important for them to get here,” says Nora Benkendorf, who translates for children and adults. The Russian from St. Petersburg has lived in the Wusterwitz office for almost 15 years and immediately offered her help to the new residents.

Nora Benkendorf helps Ukrainians as a volunteer translator.
Source: André Grossmann

He points out that Ukrainians want to work because the social benefits scratch their self-esteem. It tells of mothers and fathers hoping for a work permit, learning German twice a week and hoping for changes in the new daily life in Germany.

“Before these women and these men had prestigious jobs. They want to make a difference and get back to work. But this is only possible with good language skills and that’s why they learn, “says Benkendorf. The Russians of St. Petersburg and the Ukrainians hope that the war will end soon.

Benkendorf “has no sympathy for Putin’s war” and says her opinion, even though she is shocked by the conflict and even though her family in Russia has different opinions. The translator sees no option but to help the Ukrainians.

“I have experience that children are afraid when sirens howl or a rescue helicopter flies through the air. This should change. These children deserve a normal daily life ”, says the volunteer. He points out that the Ukrainians have been away from school for almost two months and have instead spent hours in air-raid shelters or bunkers.

Many of the new primary school students in Wusterwitz are from the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv

Half of the new primary school children come from the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. Russian soldiers besieged the city for weeks and withdrew on April 1, leaving a trail of devastation.

Principal Heike Ohsmann (left) and teacher Katrin Weituschat distribute an aid package to new students.
Source: André Grossmann

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi has declared Chnihiv a so-called city of heroes. In Ukraine, this title stands for heroic defense against the Russian attack. Because Chernihiv did not fall even after weeks of siege, air raids and heavy artillery bombardments. That is why Russian troops withdrew towards Belarus in early April.

The first day of school for Ukrainian children begins with two good news for Heike Ohsmann. Ukrainian teacher Tatiana Hoivertz teaches in Wusterwitz from the beginning of May until the end of the school year. Like most children, she comes from Tschernihiv and studied English and German to become a teacher.

In addition, five Ukrainian students will soon learn German at the Kirchmöser Vocational School (BOS) in Wusterwitz. After discussions with the Brandenburg an der Havel education authority, an agreement was reached because the BOS does not have a Ukrainian teacher.

By André Grossmann

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