The Ukraine War: Children’s Vocabulary

Status: 05/02/2022 06:00 am

Language teacher Anna Mykhailiuk from Vischgorod near Kiev fled the war and now teaches Ukrainian refugee children at Winsen Gymnasium. She speaks Ukrainian, Japanese, English and German.

by Kerry Rugemer

There are now almost 400,000 Ukrainians living in Germany who fled the war in their home country. There are mostly women with their children and the elderly. One of them is Anna Mykhailiuk. The 40-year-old came to Hamburg via Berlin with her three daughters and now lives in Stelle.

She is a language teacher and speaks German as well as Japanese and English. As soon as she got here, she started teaching German to Ukrainian children at Winsen High School. This week she will receive an employment contract and can already formally earn money.

Anna Mykhailiuk: It has to start all over again

“Here I have to start all over again – and I’m 40. I worked for 20 years. And I had authority, respect, social status there. I had money and everything there. We had a really good life,” says Anna Mykhailiuk. That life ended abruptly in late February.

Just three days after the outbreak of war, Mykhailiuk decides to leave her hometown of Vischgorod near Kiev with her three daughters. “On February 24, we heard these explosions and sat in my husband’s garage all day. And then we decided to leave Kiev. We did not see that much. I saw neither dead people nor my children,” she says. . .

Due to the endless queues at the Polish border, Anna Mykhailiuk finally travels to Germany via Hungary, Slovenia and then Poland. Now she has finally found a place in a vacant house along with a friend and her baby. She wants to do something, organizes studies, school and kindergarten for her three daughters – and then starts teaching German to children of all ages in German at the gymnasium in Winsen. But just teaching, totally normal? It’s hard because all kids have their own stories about their escape and what happened before.

“I have met everyone now and I am trying to give these children a soul massage. I tried to speak,” says Mykhailiuk. “They have different stories, but they do not want to tell them. They are closed now. We have a girl from Buca. She looks very beautiful, very beautiful. I asked her about the house, about her parents and she was able to say nothing. “

Children from Ukraine: Lessons like distraction

This lack of words is widespread, especially among Ukrainian refugee children. The German class distracts him – he does not undo the sometimes traumatic experiences. “They do not realize they are traumatized. They say, ‘We are fine. We are here with the mothers – but without the fathers’. This is not normal. “But this is not normal. We still have to look at it. The situation in high school seems normal – but we do not know what it will be like in six months, in a year.”

Anna Mykhailiuk carefully tries to have an open ear for these children, observing them closely. And all this despite the fact that she worries a lot about herself and takes care of her daughters, the youngest of whom is just under two years old. “My husband is in Ukraine – this is the hardest thing. And my mother is in Cherson, it ‘s an’ occupied territory ‘. These are the hardest things for me,” she says.

Anna Mykhailiuk is definitely a strong personality. The petite and pale woman tries to think positively and works hard. And yet you can feel her suffering, her grief, her worries behind the smiling facade at every moment of the conversation. At the moment she does not know if she will ever return to her homeland. Now she is building a new life for herself and her children here – and she is there for Ukrainian school children. “Every morning I’m so strong. But every night when everyone sleeps here we sit down and know that I and everyone else in the house are crying.”

additional information

Language teacher Anna Mykhailiuk fled the war. She now teaches Ukrainian children at Winsen Gymnasium. more

This topic in the program:

NDR Culture Matinee | 05/02/2022 | 10:20 a.m.

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