Ukrainian Wednesday school, a place to go for refugee schoolchildren

For the past two weeks, every Wednesday afternoon, this bilingual international school in Rude Judai has been organizing classes differently …

For the past two weeks, every Wednesday afternoon, this bilingual international school in Rue Judaïque has been hosting classes like no other. It provides Ukrainian House on its premises and teaching materials. About fifty refugee students gathered there. Divided into levels, they have lessons with Ukrainian volunteer teachers. They come from the bombed-out cities of Baucha, Mariupol, Kharkiv … they all took to the streets a few months ago to flee their country during the war.

For these children, schooling did not stop. Some take lessons online, others go to “French school”. But today, the place for Ukrainian lessons. The original initiative came from a charity, La Mason Ukraine (1), founded in April 2022 by Albina Kozlova, a young Ukrainian who came to France in 2005 to study. At the same time, Vice-President Charlotte Moriarty created the Ukrainian self-help group Ukrainian Refugee Support on Facebook. It has 1,800 members.

“I know how to do it all”

Oksana, the mother of Albina Kozlovar, is somewhat at the source of this experiment. A few months ago he joined his daughter in Bordeaux. He is a professor of foreign literature. On his flight from the town of Rivne, 150 kilometers from the Belarusian border, he met “many people, all lost, shocked.” We meet him in the kindergarten room, he wears a white T-shirt with his name written on a felt-tip pen and a crest of the Ukrainian flag sewn on the heart. With passion, but with a straight eye, he explained that during his long trip to France, he immediately thought of setting up a project around education, to hold on and move on. “I wanted to show that we are there, we are teachers. All I know is to teach, to organize, to instruct. I am very grateful that such a place exists. In our school, we don’t have all these elements. For me, it’s a sign from heaven. A

“All I know is to teach, to organize.”


Each “teacher” has taken a classroom at Bordeaux International School

Fabian Cotero / Southwest

Above, Tatiana takes us to her class for primary. Before the war, he was a logic teacher at a private school in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, 30 kilometers from Russia. Kharkiv is distorted today by bombings. He is also a Rubik’s Cube champion. She has given her classes here since she fled to France with her children. He is well-registered with Pôle emploi “but without a good command of the French, what to do?”, He laments. So he puts all his will into the development of his language in Ukrainian. “When I left, I thought that the exchange that my children had with our family would be enough for their well-being. But no, it’s important for them to be open to other Ukrainian schoolchildren who are going through the same thing. Here, this is the time to share and listen. A

Everyone enjoys teaching history lessons from pencil drawing in their mother tongue.


Everyone enjoys teaching history lessons from pencil drawing in their mother tongue.

Fabian Cotero / Southwest

“Reunion Place”

Isabel Bidalun, co-director of BIS, which has 180 students from 28 nationalities this year, goes on to say: “I met Albina before Easter, and we support her initiative. We had something to do. Here, teachers who have left because of the war can continue to work. It is also interesting that children re-create a bond with friends their age. This feeling towards a language, towards a country is fundamental. It is important that the mother tongue is meant by the teacher. A

Finally, for Albina Kozlovar, this Ukrainian school is “above all a place of exchange, a place of reunion, many of these students have learned a new language, some even, depending on the region from which they came, they speak Ukrainian again when they are speaking “Russian families say they’re tired. Here, it’s a place to let them go and rest.”

(1) Members and families of the Ukrainian House Association will meet for the Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Parc du Vivier in Marignak. On this occasion, games for children and a treasure trove will be provided, handicraft sales will fund projects and outings.

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