Since 1992, high school students and teachers from Saskatoon, Canada, have been traveling to Ukraine and welcoming Ukrainian students to their school. But not this year.
Laurianne Gabruch, who teaches Ukrainian at Bethlehem High School, says the school board cancelled the plans due to safety concerns.
This Spring, students would have travelled to the Ukrainian city of Lviv, says Gabruch. “It’s a more Ukrainian-speaking area. There was also an excursion into the Carpathian mountains planned, giving the kids some other cultural and linguistic opportunities to use their language and hear some of the other Ukrainian dialects that do exist.”
The program is designed to immerse students in the language. Her class also covers the history and culture of the country.
Gabruch says the highlights are "the ‘aha’ moments the students have when they walk into one of the historic church buildings which we would have talked about, and the history goes back a thousand years and they realize that this is where it happened,” Gabruch says.
“Or the moments when the students get to a village from where their ancestors come and realize that that's really where their roots are. It is really touching and it is very emotional sometimes," she says. “The students who do go are very Canadian, very North American, but are realizing their Ukrainian roots."
Gabruch says she still is hoping the Ukrainian students will be able to visit Saskatoon, Canada in September, and that her students will be able to go next Spring.