Yuliia Nesterovych, a high school student from Ukraine, found a home away from home in Woodstock, Connecticut. The teenager started studying at The Woodstock Academy last year, shortly after Russian troops invaded her country.
“It’s really hard to talk about it,” said Nesterovych, recounting the days immediately after the war began.
The Woodstock Academy started working with global educational partners last year to welcome students from Ukraine who had been displaced due to the war. Seven students, including Nesterovych, arrived last year. The school offered the students tuition, room, and board free of charge for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.
“Like many, we are watching what is happening in Ukraine and we are concerned for the families and citizens who are under attack and are currently being displaced. Also, like many, we are asking ourselves what we can do to support the people of Ukraine,” Assistant Head of School for Enrollment Amy Favreau wrote in a press release.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
The same seven students returned to The Academy this school year. Their tuition is covered thanks to donations from the community made to the school’s Fund for Displaced Students.
“I really appreciate that and like all of the people who support us,” said Nesterovych.
Nesterovych said she has been able to try new things that she had only dreamed of doing before. In the fall, she joined the school’s cheerleading team, and she is now participating in the school’s theater program.
Yehor Bezshchasnyi is a senior. He was recently accepted early admission to Columbia University, where he will begin studying in August.
“At least I am in safety, and I have the opportunity to continue my education,” said Bezshchasnyi.
Anna Masan is also a senior at The Woodstock Academy. She is originally from Kyiv.
The students said they are thankful for the opportunity but are constantly thinking of their families and friends in Ukraine. Nearly one year after war began, the students hope that people will continue to pay attention to the war and support Ukraine.
“You understand that you are not alone, and people support you and they want to help you and you feel like it’s not over,” said Masan.