3 Ukrainian evacuees attend high school in eastern Japan for first time

From left, Ustym Mosula, Anastasiya Nikhotina and Matvii Mosula are seen on their first day of school at Kiryu Municipal Seiryu Junior High School in Gunma Prefecture on May 2, 2022. (Mainichi/ Koji Osawa)

KIRYU, Gunma – Three members of a Ukrainian family who evacuated to this eastern Japanese city in March following the Russian invasion of their home country attended their first day of school in a municipal high school on May 2.

Tetyana Nikhotina, 50, and four other Ukrainians came to Japan relying on her cousin Svitlana Ozhibko, 45, who lives in Kiryu, Gunma prefecture.

On May 2, Tetyana’s sons, Ustym Mosula, 15, and Matvii Mosula, 13, and her niece, Anastasiya Nikhotina, 15, dressed in Kiryu Seiryu Municipal High School uniforms, posed for a memorial photo at the school gate.

“I’m nervous, but I was looking forward to coming to school in Japan. I want to make friends,” Anastasiya said as Svitlana performed for her.

According to the school, the three students will be provisionally placed in a second-grade class and are expected to attend classes twice a week from 11 a.m. for two hours. They will be taught by assistant language teachers and Japanese teachers from the city.

On weekdays, the three will have online classes at a school in Ukraine from around 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., so the city school board and the school will work to adjust their schedules depending on the situation.

Svitlana said: “I hope they get used to school soon and regain their liveliness.”

(Japanese original by Koji Osawa, Kiryu Local Office)

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