Une réfugiée ukrainienne accueillie au lycée - From darkness to peace: the will to go on…

Une jeune Ukrainienne, Anastasia, réfugiée en France, est scolarisée depuis le 31 mars dernier dans notre lycée. Elle suit notamment l'enseignement de spécialité LLCE Anglais Monde Contemporain (AMC).

Elle répond aux questions de ses camarades. Les échanges sont en anglais.


Last week we opened our doors to a young Ukrainian girl, whose name is Anastasia. Only 17 years old, she arrived in Pau from Zaporizhia, a city in Eastern Ukraine just 300km from the Russian border. She agreed to answer our questions.

So can you tell us about how it all started?
The 23rd of February everything was going well and I was going to work. We were talking about the probability of a war against Russia but nobody really believed it would happen the day after. The 24th of February I woke up and saw my parents watching the news and saying that the war had started. My mom told me to pack all my belongings. In the afternoon, men between 18 and 60 were already forbidden to leave the country so we didn’t have time to leave with the whole family. A week later, my dad told my mom, my grandmother, my little brother--who is seven--and I to leave before it would have been too late. We took the last train from our city Zaporizhia.

The trip was long and hard. I had to fight for my life when we tried to get into the last train car.  After lying motionless for 28 hours on the luggage rack, I was covered in bruises. While trying to board the train, my younger brother was nearly trampled by adults. My train passed through Kyiv, and then Vinnitsa and Khmelnitsky as bombs fell on the former.  When I was at the border with Poland, I thought I was going to die. We spent ten hours outside in the cold and it was snowing. The trip was tiring; I didn't sleep or eat for four days.
Then I went to the Czech Republic for four days and quickly to Germany. Then I finally arrived in France.

How do you feel with everything you have been through?
Before leaving Ukraine nobody believed in the war in our country. Now I’m scared for my dad and I hope he will be able to join us. He told us that as soon as our village is attacked he will escape. Being in France makes me feel safe, but not completely...  My dream is to see my dad and hug him.  While he is not near our family, I cannot live in peace.

What do you think about your arrival in France?
I was well received by French people. They gave us everything we needed. French teenagers in this high school have been really welcoming, however food is really different here and I’m not always sure of what I’m eating.

Are there many differences between schools in Ukraine and in France?
In Ukraine I’ve already finished high school because schools aren’t the same. This summer I’m going to receive my law degree which I’ve been working on for three years. High school in Ukraine stops at 15/14 years old. Moreover, I already had a great working experience since I’ve worked for six months as a judge’s assistant.

Do you understand a little bit of French?
No, only a few words but I’m ready to learn it and do whatever it takes. I was told we would be able to take French lessons.

We then decided to ask how AMC’s students felt about Anastasia’s arrival. When she chose to open up about her experience we listened carefully, we were all ears. We faced reality and the harshness of the situation, the seriousness of her story gave us goose bumps but she impressed us with her bravery.

Les élèves de Terminale, Spécialité "LLCE AMC", Lycée Louis Barthou.