Amidst chaos, Teaching hope: The story of a Ukrainian teacher in Belgium

Vitaliia Shvets is a mother, wife, and English teacher at our school, EEB1. Unfortunately, she also happened to be a victim of the war in Ukraine. Today, comfortably sat in the S1-3 library, she’s going to talk to us about the experiences she made while and after fleeing from Ukraine. 

Thank you for coming today. It’s an honor to hear your story. 

Thank you for inviting me! I’m happy to share my story with you.

How did it feel when you realized you would have to flee your country?

I don’t know what to say, first of all: fear. I’d never been abroad before, I was forced to leave. The situation got worse and worse. Tanks and planes were everywhere. My husband persuaded us to go to another town because in the town where I lived there were too many soldiers. I was depressed, shocked, disoriented, and it was very difficult for my children. 

How did you escape? 

We went by car to another town, where there was a train going to the border of Poland. I had terrible feelings, but a volunteer offered us a place to sleep in the train. We were supposed to take another train but we chose to take the bus instead, which was very crowded. I saw a reporter and went up to him to start a conversation. He interviewed me and I got his number. We took the bus and finally crossed the Polish border. We were so exhausted as we had to stand for seven hours. Then we came to Warsaw and stayed for one week. I texted the reporter I talked to because we didn’t know where to go next. He proposed to go to Berlin and helped us get there. After some time, we found a host family in Belgium online and lived with them for seven months. 

How is the situation in your family, how was the experience for them?

The experience was hard for my children and it is difficult for me because my husband is involved in the war. We are currently in different countries and I’m dreaming about reuniting. It was difficult at first for my children to adapt because of the language barrier. For example, my daughter is now in the English section of Eeb1 but has an A2 level. 

They used to do a lot of extracurricular activities: ballroom dancing, tennis, and chess. Here in Brussels they continued tennis and chess and participate in chess competitions. My son also started fencing and boxing. It seems like a part of Ukraine is still here.

Did you change in any way after you fled from Ukraine?

I think, yes. All people from Ukraine are stronger psychologically. Finally, we’re able to think “ok, I did it, I’m here, I’m safe”. The war also showed us people’s true personality. 

What do you wish for your country in the future?

One phrase that’s everywhere: they say “glory to Ukraine”. And of course, I also wish to stop the war.

Thank you so much for your time. We didn’t know many details about the war, so you showed us a new point of view about this. 

Vera Schwiertz and Zofia Roszak / S4 / EEB1 Uccle

Une pensée sur “Amidst chaos, Teaching hope: The story of a Ukrainian teacher in Belgium

  • 23 avril 2024 à 10 h 38 min

    Very moving to read stories like this one


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