KETTERING, Ohio — This past February marked one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Since then we’ve shared stories from the war and the countless efforts from organizations in the United States who have stepped up to help.
Kettering College has become a place of education and refuge for students needing help.
In-between classes you can find Anna Prune and Victor Elkine comparing notes and reviewing homework.
She’s speaking Ukrainian and he’s speaking Russian, but they understand each other.
Since August they have been studying nursing at Kettering College.
Elkine always wanted to go to school in the United States.
“Right when I got out of my military service in Israel, someone contacted me and he said there was an opportunity to study here with the Ukrainian group, especially that in Israel it’s not so safe,” Elkine said.
Thanks to help from a network of Seventh-day Adventist churches, colleges and universities, Kettering College has opened its doors to nearly 50 Ukrainian students since the war started.
“I lived in the city called Bucha. A lot of people heard about the city because of a lot of terrible things there during Russian occupation,” said Anna Prun.
When Prun doesn’t have her eyes on the books studying, she’s watching a video that she made when the war began.
“It was one of the first cities which were bombed by Russia,” she said.
You won’t see war-torn images from her small city near the Capital.
Instead, in her video, it’s all about happy moments with family, friends and singing.
“I miss my previous life. I’m happy to be here, but I feel like my previous life was stolen,” she said.
Prun was able to escape to Western Ukraine, then Germany, and eventually to the U.S..
“I came here alone. My travel was just me. But here I met a lot of wonderful people. I have a lot of wonderful friends,” she said.
Prun talks to her parents every day, but having friends like Elkine means the world.
“This is a small world,” he said.
It’s a small world, but Prun and Elkine are living proof of just how small.
“We are related. So my sister is married to her cousin and we’ve never met before we came here. This place is a blessing for us because we’re studying here and we met each other,” Elkine said.
While the future is uncertain, both have an idea of what will happen next.
“I plan to stay here for at least one year after graduation to work for them and to say thank you for all that they do for us,” Prun said.
“It’s the least that we can do to thank them,” said Elkine.
Both students are almost halfway done with their nursing program and have jobs waiting for them with Kettering Health after graduation.