From My Lovely And Talented Wife®
My Ukranian friend just sent me a photo of a supermarket that was leveled to the ground during the Russian invasion and massacre in Bucha in March, 2022. She looks out on this from her nearby 14th floor window, and she is heartened by the fact that the area is now being cleared for rebuilding. Such efforts are everywhere, she tells me. People are hard at work to bring the city back to what it was.
I just met my lively new friend this past week on Zoom as part of an online program, ENGin, to match young Ukranians with native English speakers in other countries so that they can improve their English. We will be speaking together every week for an hour at a mutually agreed upon time for at least three months. She loves to travel, and this is the actual reason that she joined the program. English being a more universally spoken language than Ukranian, she hopes it will enable her to speak to people in other countries in Europe that she might visit someday. Her secondary reason is that it might help her relocate for some time in another country should she be forced to flee due to the war. That is plan B. She does not want to leave her homeland.
With traveling as her main goal, we chose it for our first unit of four sessions from the 18 topics that ENGin suggests. A few of the other topics listed are art, music, movies, TV, friendly debates, law, fashion, health, the environment, careers, and social issues. My new friend appreciates the distraction of having something normal to talk about since normalcy is where she hopes her country will return soon. This well-run volunteer group not only has online training sessions for the volunteers, but also comprehensive lesson “plans” that include links to online reading materials and videos that serve as jumping off points for discussions in each unit. They also provide many questions that you might ask your Ukranian buddy to stimulate conversation.
ENGin is open to Ukranians from 10 to 35 years old. Volunteers can be anyone fluent in English and 14 years of age or older. Volunteer credit can be obtained if desired. They are most in need of adult volunteers who they will match with Ukranian adults. It seems that there are more young English speakers volunteering than adults. They also accept donations to help fund their effort. A link describing the program in more detail is here:
“In the Midst of War, Nonprofit Pairs 14,000 Ukrainians with Volunteers to Help Rebuild Their Lives and Their Country” or “Home ENGin,” (enginprogram.org)