Ukrainian refugee students prepare to start at Las Vegas-area schools

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:54 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - FOX5 is hearing from Ukrainian refugee teenagers enrolled at local schools who are getting ready to start a new chapter with a new language.

Rada Rudenko fled Ukraine in April with her husband and stepdaughter Sophie. The move felt temporary but now Rudenko is unsure when they will be able to return. Sophie is now having to adjust to life in the valley. She’ll be entering Western High School where her biggest fear, is not speaking English.

“She’s shy and she’s afraid to go to school to be new at school, to be bullied, there are many things I mean she’s a teenager. It’s a difficult age and it’s difficult to adjust,” Rudenko said.

Fortunately, Sophie met new friends, sisters Sofiia and Yelyzaveda Podobna who fled Ukraine in March. They learned English back when they were in school in Ukraine. They were in school during the spring semester.

“When I came the people and teachers around were so glad to see me they were like ‘oh my god, we have a Ukrainian student. It was beautiful and sweet for me,” Sofiia Podobna said.

They talked about how American school is different.

“We have one school for 11 years while you have three different schools, elementary, middle and high school,” Podobna said.

Both sisters agreed a big perk is the workload.

“The education here is easier than in the Ukraine – yeah. Especially in math. People tell me like ‘oh you’re a genius, you know like three languages you’re good at math,’ and I’m like no I’m not I was just studying at school,” Podobna said.

Viktoriia Marushchak arrived to the valley in May. She’ll be starting high school at Coral Academy.

“I’m like not a native speaker and I have accent but I think many people in America have accent and it doesn’t matter,” Marushchak said.

She’s looking forward to learning about physics, math and computer science.

“A little bit nervous but I think everything will be good,” Marushchak said.