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Maple Ridge students provide free English lessons to Ukrainian refugees

Multi-lingual students host lessons at Maple Ridge Christian School every Thursday
(L-R) Tim, Makar, Brynn, Talia, Vera Gileff, and Antonina Kozelets are some of the Maple Ridge Christian School students who have come together to offer Ukrainian refugees free ESL classes every Thursday. (Maple Ridge Christian School/Special to The News)

A group of Maple Ridge students are lending refugees a helping hand with their new English as a second language (ESL) classes.

Antonina Kozelets is one of eight Maple Ridge Christian School students behind these new classes, and is actually a Ukrainian refugee herself.

Having come to Canada only 10 months ago, Kozelets said she’s already seen a major improvement in her English and wants to help her fellow refugees achieve the same thing.

“I know a lot of friends who don’t know English at all,” said Kozelets. “It’s hard to pay rent for an apartment if you don’t know it. We need to help Ukrainians with this so they can do basic things like buying groceries.”

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Quentin Flokstra, lead principal at Maple Ridge Christian, explained that this new student-led program is specifically aimed at providing Ukrainian refugees in the Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows area with a low-key environment to help them better learn English.

According to Kozelets, a Grade 10 student named Vera Gileff is a multi-lingual teacher and leader of the student group.

“Vera speaks Russian because both of her parents are from Russian-speaking countries,” said Kozelets. “But she also knows English really well because she was born here.”

The group gets together every Thursday from 3:15 to 5 p.m. at Maple Ridge Christian School, where students who know both English and Ukrainian or Russian are available to help individuals improve their English skills for free.

Interested individuals are encouraged to drop by and can reach out to the group on their various social media channels or by calling 672-673-2806.

RELATED: Finland joins NATO in major blow to Russia over Ukraine war

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About the Author: Brandon Tucker

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