Empowering Education Amidst Adversity: English4Ukraine

Language Learning that Gives Hope to a Future Generation

Ukrainian children learning English through international language programs

Table of Contents

In a world rife with challenges, an innate human spirit often emerges to rise above adversity and make a difference. The story of English4Ukraine, a grassroots initiative started by Global LT’s Ukrainian-born CFO, Zoryana Lisna, exemplifies this spirit through its commitment to language education amid conflict. Through the words of its founder and the voices of those it touched, we aim to share the profound impact of English4Ukraine's programs on refugees, children in shelters, and teachers.

It all began with a question: "How can we help those people?" These words sparked the inception of English4Ukraine, as shared by its founder, Zory. Faced with the dire circumstances brought about by the conflict in Ukraine, a dedicated team at Global LT recognized the urgent need to support those affected by the war. Teachers were left unemployed, families were displaced, and educational opportunities dwindled.

The initial response was swift and compassionate. Recognizing the plight of teachers who had lost their livelihoods, the team at Global LT initiated a program to support these educators financially. Over two consecutive months, a small stipend was provided to ease their financial burdens, knowing that they had enough to worry about and that having a steady stream of income would be one less thing to cause anxiety. This simple act of solidarity marked the first step in a series of initiatives that would have a far-reaching impact.

As the war on the ground in Ukraine intensified, and the scale of the civilian crisis in Ukraine expanded, Zory, with a few other volunteers from the local community, came together to focus on delivering medical supplies to the front lines and critical essentials to the most vulnerable victims of the war – disadvantaged and displaced children. The team recognized the need to formalize their efforts, and a non-profit organization, “Oberig” was born.  By having official recognition, the team could maximize their efforts' efficiency and increase fundraising opportunities. 

A turning point emerged when refugees began arriving in local communities, bringing with them a new set of challenges. Language became a significant barrier to integration and access to employment opportunities. Recognizing this, the idea of organizing English classes took root. “Access to English classes became a vital need for this group. With Global LT’s team support, we have a unique chance to launch a significant, life-changing initiative,” pondered Zory, sparking the initiative that would soon transform lives. This was when Global LT and Oberig joined their efforts to organize the English4Ukraine project.

The classes were not just about language acquisition. They provided a sense of normalcy, a brief respite from the turmoil, and a chance for the refugees to connect. Zory reminisced about the impact: "It's not changing the environment around you, but giving learners a chance to feel connected to a larger purpose.” 

The impact extended beyond refugees, reaching displaced children in shelters. These shelters provided a safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but educational opportunities were scarce. English4Ukraine's intervention offered educational support, emotional relief, and a distraction from the war raging around them. Amid the chaos and uncertainty, the classrooms provided a space for learning and camaraderie, where students could momentarily escape the harsh realities they faced.

The dedication of both teachers and students was awe-inspiring. Classes continued even during air raid warnings, with students sheltering in bomb shelters, but they did not allow such extreme circumstances to disrupt their learning. Images of children huddled in underground classrooms, continuing their studies despite the chaos above ground, showcased their resilience and determination to learn. Learning English may seem like not a priority to focus on during an active war. Still, the ability to be surrounded by peers while learning something new was exactly what Ukrainian children needed to maintain a sense of normalcy amid very abnormal circumstances. 

Data from the initiative's milestones tell a powerful story of impact: close to 200 refugees in 14 different states in the US, Canada, and the UK took advantage of the program, and for many, it was the only available opportunity to learn English. The project delivered 500 language learning hours to displaced refugees over ten months. 150 children in 5 different shelters received 450 hours of education lessons in 2022 alone, and then the scope was extended until the end of the school year, delivering another 225 hours. The scope of the program expanded way beyond the original expectations. Teachers from the initiative found creative solutions to ensure classes went on, whether securing transportation or adapting to challenging environments. 

English4Ukraine’s commitment shone through as the initiative grew and adapted to the community's evolving needs. The idea to provide refugee English classes evolved into a multi-faceted support network. English 4 Ukraine became a beacon of hope in a troubled time, from financial assistance to language education to emotional refuge and learning survival and adaptation skills.

The story of English4Ukraine serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and community support. In the face of conflict, the initiative's unwavering dedication to providing opportunities for learning and connection highlights the immense impact that even a small group of individuals can achieve. As we reflect on this remarkable journey, let us remember that even in the darkest times, the human spirit can shine brightly, making a difference one act of kindness at a time.

While the war (and its reverberating impact on Ukrainian society) may be far from over, the need to bring language learning to Ukrainians is not. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can donate language lessons to those in need, click here. All donations are tax-deductible and go directly to those who will benefit from them.  


Ukrainian language students learning in a bomb shelter

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