Now I have two houses

An interview with Tetiana Bobko, a Ukrainian English teacher who teaches Ukrainian children at the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Internet School

You are a refugee from a country waging a dramatic, unequal war against its aggressive neighbor over the integrity of its borders. How do you see your work in our e-school in this context?

I see the Kujawsko-Pomorska e-School as a modern, innovative educational platform, making it possible to help students from Ukraine gain knowledge in this difficult time. As a refugee from Ukraine, I want to use my example to motivate children to move forward, gain knowledge, communicate with others on different topics and smile. I also want to show them that this world is also colorful. I know it’s not easy in the distance formula, but I try to convey this content through emotions, tone of voice and smile. “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” is my life principle.

Thanks to e-School I can spend my time with others, imparting knowledge and experience to them and giving them an impulse to move forward without looking back.

Did you leave your relatives in Ukraine? Are you in contact with them?

My parents, siblings and friends stayed in Ukraine. Of course we have daily contact, I mainly try to talk to them about positive topics and assure them, with love and hope, that a better future will come soon. Now we also have the option to exchange gift packs. My mother sent some of my personal belongings and many of my favorite sweets from Ukraine, which I believe are the best in the world. honestly mine [polscy] friends were also happy with these candies. I also make several gifts for my family, recently I sent my 10 month old nephew Demjan clothes with Mickey Mouse, which he loves. Moments like these show how important it is to support each other. But the essence is not in material things, but in deeds, in the desire to do more for those dear to you.

You live in Toruń. How do you feel with us?

Photo Andrzej Goinski / UMWKP

Toruń is an extremely atmospheric and cozy city with particularly attractive streets in the old town. Szeroka Street reminds me of a street in my hometown, Lviv, which sometimes makes me feel at home here. The boulevard on the river Vistula gives you a fresh feeling, you can relax after a tiring day. I fell in love with this city and feel very comfortable here. Of course, my close friends and acquaintances who lived in Toruń helped me to adapt quite quickly, by inviting me and treating me not as a guest, but as a family member. I also really liked their cat named Sumo who was my daily companion while I had coffee before going to the recording studio. The family I stayed with also took me on trips in the area and prepared Polish dishes for me. Now I live alone, a block next door, they also helped me organize and furnish this apartment. However, the most valuable thing I got from them was a lot of love and emotional support, which I so desperately needed at the time. I am truly grateful to them for that and will never forget it. “A true friend is a brother you can rely on in times of need.”

How do you rate Poland’s support for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees?

I know that the help from the Poles is very great and we are very grateful for that. Everything I received in Poland, including clothes and other essentials, was provided to me by the people I lived with – Miłosz and Bożenka with their friends. They are like a second mother and a second father to me. Our relationships are very close, I am very grateful to them, they are really wonderful people. The free public transport was also a big help, allowing me to get to know the city better and easily commute to classes in the Kujawsko-Pomorska e-Szkoła.

Photo Andrzej Goinski / UMWKP

Can you imagine your return home – when this war is over?

I know it’s only a matter of time before I meet my relatives, embrace them, and see my childhood home. In the eyes of my imagination I see how one evening the whole family is sitting on the porch, drinking tea, and I say “how good it is to be home”. Ukraine is the country where I was born and raised, and Poland is the country that gave me shelter. I am a happy person because I now have two houses.

July 8, 2022

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