The Refugee Friends Circle organizes language lessons for people from Ukraine in Bellingen. A teacher and two students are talking.
I want to learn German.” The sentence to Olena Neskreba comes hesitantly from her lips. The Ukrainian is currently learning how to pronounce German numbers, greetings and what people say when shopping in this country. She formulates the phrase “my lessons” slowly but clearly, referring to the educational materials she received from her teacher .
Like Sani Iboji, the 51-year-old is one of about 260 war refugees from Ukraine currently housed in a hotel in Plieningen’s Entenäcker industrial district. As long as the refugees do not receive an offer of formal integration courses, they take their first steps in the German language with the support of volunteers from the Plieningen-Birkach Circle of Friends.
Children go to public schools
Joachim Schlett of Pliening is one of twelve German volunteer teachers who teach Ukrainians in residence. He responded to a call from the circle of friends in mid-April. Ursula Fromelt, who had been coordinating volunteer German lessons at the three accommodations in Berkach and Bellingen in the Circle of Friends, purchased the appropriate teaching materials from Munich Refugee Aid. “Then the district office helped us transcribe,” Fromlett says.
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Shalit, whose study group includes Olena Neskreba and 39-year-old Sunny Ibuje, offers his course twice a week. “Every Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.,” he says. All students are adults. Children and young people from the residence all attend public school. Ukrainians are taught in hotel rooms. Since the operator prevents the press from reaching the hotel, the conversation with the teacher and his Ukrainian students takes place in the open air near the facility.
There is always movement in learning groups
Like nearly all of the assistants who volunteer to teach refugees, Shalit is not a trained teacher. Before retirement, the 65-year-old was working as an IT manager. He was also active in the Birkach-Plieningen SPD branch for a long time. “Our group started with 15 adults, now there are eleven,” he says. There is always movement in study groups. Two people from the Shalit group have already returned to Ukraine. “Perhaps others have already found an apartment.”
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Nigerian Sunny Iboji, who came to Ukraine as an innovation management student, is married to a Ukrainian with a two-year-old child, and was living south of Kyiv when the war broke out. “Our house was not demolished,” he says. But mainly because of the young daughter, the family fled to Germany via Poland. The fact that he ended up in Stuttgart was a coincidence in the end. “We wanted to go to a place where there are not that many refugees yet.” The head of the family did not want to stay in Poland. With his excellent knowledge of English, Sunny Ibuje is a great support for Schlitt. If necessary, he translates from English to Ukrainian for his classmates. He does the same thing when he talks to the newspaper. Ibuje does not want to return to Ukraine until the war is over. In English, he says, “Time will tell.” Now he first wants to learn German better so that he can find a job.
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Trained interior designer and women’s fashion seamstress Olena Neskreba also wants to work. It comes from Lebedin in northeastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. “There were a lot of bombs,” she says. She had to leave her husband behind. He doesn’t have to fight because of his poor eyesight, but he does help with the cleaning chores.
She wants to find work as quickly as possible so that she can support her husband and mother who live in Ukraine from Germany. Nescrippa has had German lessons at school for three years. As she says, she loves the German language and German culture. When it’s all over, her husband should follow her. Olena Neskripa, who deliberately wanted to move to southern Germany because of the warmer climate, can imagine a future for herself and her husband in Stuttgart.