Ukrainian students visit Michigan State Capitol
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - “I miss my friends, I miss my place where I was living, I mean, I miss my house, everything. Everything,” said Ukrainian refugee Artem Kharko.
After the war in Ukraine started, 16-year-old Kharko came to Michigan. He now attends high school in suburban Detroit, at Manoogian. He was at the state capital Thursday, along with more than 40 other Ukrainian students. They all fled war-torn Ukraine, many leaving their family and belongings behind. Some of the students have only been speaking English since coming to America less than a year ago.
They said it’s been a great opportunity to learn more, but they all seem to have one thing on their mind.
“Everyone says like that they want to (go) back to Ukraine because it’s so hard because it’s like the place where you are born,” said Kharko.
The charter school Kharko attends had roughly 60 Ukrainian students before the war began and has teachers that speak Ukrainian as well.
“I feel a little bit like I am in my Ukrainian school,” said Kharko.
The school’s significant Ukrainian population brought an additional 90 refugee students to the area after the start of the war.
“We opened the doors wide open to the Ukrainian community, and word got around of course.” said their principal, Dr. Hosep Torossian.
Ukrainian Student Vladyslav Kozar said he planned to attend college in the U.S., but that he never imagined he’d have to flee his country as a 9th grader.
“My father can’t leave from Ukraine because of military duty, you know,” said Kozar.
He said his father is his dearest family member, although they haven’t seen each other since the war began.
Their new American school offers a lot, but their principal understands that some things can’t be healed through math and science.
“The loneliness, the tears, missing home, broken families, and the inability to communicate in English, that was a huge challenge,” said their principal, Dr. Torossian.
They’ve come a long way in a year, but these resilient teenagers just want to get back home as soon as possible. Some students have spoken to family members in Ukraine over social media. They’re told missiles and sirens are heard all across the country, almost all the time.
Through all of the hardship and violence back home, the students said they are deeply thankful for the opportunities they’ve had in Michigan.
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