Local Ukraine exchange student describes how war has impacted her

WAYNE COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — A foreign exchange student from Ukraine who’s attending school in Wayne County is speaking out about how the war in her homeland is having a direct impact on her. Kateryna is here through the Future Leaders Exchange program. She was born and raised around Kyiv, […]

WAYNE COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — A foreign exchange student from Ukraine who’s attending school in Wayne County is speaking out about how the war in her homeland is having a direct impact on her.

Kateryna is here through the Future Leaders Exchange program. She was born and raised around Kyiv, but since she left for America last fall her neighborhood was destroyed, and her family became refugees.

Now she’s trying to balance her education while planning for an uncertain future.

While safe on the other side of the world, 17-year-old Kateryna is heartbroken as she sees images of her hometown reduced to rubble.

“My community was raided by Russian soldiers and burnt to the ground,” Kateryna told us. “My school where I use to attend was also shelled, and my grandparent’s house was shelled.”

With Kateryna’s home destroyed, her family is on the run, without any way to support themselves or a place for her to return to after the school year.

“They don’t have any income, they don’t have work,” Kateryna said. “And it’s just hard for me to leave without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

Under the future exchange scholarship program, Kateryna is supposed to return to Ukraine on May 19th.

The family she’s boarding with is trying to work with the Federal Government to extend her visa and apply for Temporary Protected Status or work permits. But so far, they haven’t made much progress.

“There’s a fee associated with that fee if you’re over 14 is $135,” Barry VanNostrand, her host dad, explained. “If the people that are here under TPS want to work while they’re here that’s an extra $410 and if she’s able to get approval to change her visa that’s an extra $120.”

“My American family has done so much for me,” Kateryna added. “They want to make a safe environment for me and always given me a lot of support so I feel more than safe here.”

One elected official the VanNostrand family has been trying to get in contact with is Senator Chuck Schumer. We reached out to his office yesterday. They got back to us a few hours ago, asking for Kateryna and her boarding family’s personal contact information. They said they’ll now contact them to offer any assistance they can.

In the meantime, Kateryna is applying for new scholarships to attend college here in America. Kateryna asks everyone to pitch in for the people still in Ukraine by contacting the local Ukrainian Culture Center.  

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