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After fleeing Kyiv, 15-year-old twins cram to catch up at school in Paris

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By Reuters
After fleeing Kyiv, 15-year-old twins cram to catch up at school in Paris
After fleeing Kyiv, 15-year-old twins cram to catch up at school in Paris   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Yiming Woo

PARIS – Weeks after fleeing Kyiv with their mother and arriving in Paris, 15-year-old twins Masha and Sasha Litkovska have already started high school in the French capital and are cramming to get to grips with the language.

They are among nearly 90 Ukrainians who have transferred to high schools in Paris and the rest of the Ile-de-France region in recent weeks.

There are 700 spots available in the Ile-de-France for foreign students in need and most of them this year are expected to be allocated to people fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, according to Christophe Kerrero, Paris’s chief academic officer.

So far, the girls have spent most of their time in a French as a second language class, where they are being helped by two other students, originally from Russia and Kazakhstan, who translate for them.

“The objective – since these two students are really beginners in the French language – is to get them to master the language as soon as possible, so they can pursue their studies in France if they stay,” said their teacher Sarah Czarnobroda.

While the twins are adapting to their new life, they remain anxious about their father, a police officer, who has stayed at home in Kyiv to fight.

“We are very worried about our father,” Sasha said. “Even though we are safe now, we are still very worried about Ukraine, because you don’t know if your relatives are alive. When you can’t reach them over the phone, you start thinking something went wrong.”

Moscow calls its action in Ukraine a “special operation”.

The twins and their mother travelled through Slovakia before arriving in Paris on March 5 and are staying at an apartment in the southwest of the French capital that belongs to a friend of their mother.

Masha said she liked their new school and the girls had already made some friends.

“I am happy that I am not in Kyiv, and not in Ukraine … and am not thinking about whether I will make it to tomorrow morning,” she said.