Local Volunteer Speaking To Ukrainians Shares Their Fears

A T-shirt is seen on display during this year’s Ocean County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in support of those in the Ukraine who are enduring an invasion by Russian forces to their nation. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  LAKEHURST – When a volunteer is part of a cultural exchange program, it most often provides an opportunity to share the joy of a new culture. A borough resident however has learned of the horror of those he teaches from the Ukraine.

   Like many across America and the world, borough resident Moon Patel is concerned about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. He has a direct link to some of those who are living in that troubled nation.

  Patel shared his perspectives and feelings with The Manchester Times saying, “I am a current volunteer at ENGin, a nonprofit organization that connects young English speakers to youth in Ukraine for one-on-one online language practice and cultural exchange. After working with my Ukrainian student and getting to know Ukraine and Ukrainians on a personal basis, I am terrified about what is happening in Ukraine now.”

  ENGin pairs Ukrainian students with English-speaking peers for free online conversation practice and a cross-cultural connection. Volunteers like Patel work with students age 13-22 and volunteers age 14-25.

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  According to its website, the organization’s mission is “to help a generation of Ukrainian youth to improve their spoken English and intercultural skills, equipping them to access academic and professional opportunities.”

  “Russia’s invasion has put our teams and our students’ lives in danger. As an organization dedicated to building ties between Ukraine and the West, it is painful to see the U.S.  government’s reluctance to give Ukraine sufficient support,” Katerina Manoff, the founder and chief executive officer of ENGin told The Manchester Times.

  ENGin student Alla who came from Kyiv, said, “I see the destruction of my home country, and I don’t even have enough time to mourn each one before a new catastrophe comes.”

  The student added, “of course, it’s hard to be optimistic when I’m overwhelmed with questions like ‘What’s next?’ ‘Am I next?’ I want to wake up free of occupation and free of fear of bombs dropping from the sky.”

  For more information about ENGin visit, ENGinprogram.org.