By Noelle Riley
When Ukraine was invaded in February, Aleksandr (Alex) Chapcha had to halt his online learning at Emily Griffith Technical College. He was taking English classes from Kyiv, Ukraine.
When we reached out to him last month via email, he was safe and happy to share the positive experiences he’s had with the college and how it’s helped him communicate globally.
“I love traveling and knowledge of English makes it possible to feel free in the world,” says Alex. “In addition, not knowing the English language, I always felt cut off from the civilized world. I like to read literature, watch movies. I studied English at the intermediate level but needed to work with native speakers to improve my abilities. Therefore, I decided to join Emily Griffith.”
His daughter, who lives in Denver, recommended that he take online classes at Emily Griffith where she studied to take her citizenship exam.
“She told me about the good atmosphere and quality education,” he says.
Increasing language skills is important to Alex for a number of reasons. He’s a regional director for the global beverage company, Inbev, which includes Budweiser, and improving his English helps him on a daily basis with business worldwide.
It also helps him tell his story to a global audience. That story includes what’s going on in Ukraine.
“On February 24, I was on a business trip near the border with Russia. At 5 a.m. I heard explosions,” he says. “My wife called me and said that Kyiv was being shelled with rockets.”
When he got back to the city from his business trip, several civil buildings were destroyed. He immediately took his family to a safe place.
“Now every night the alarm sounds and people go to the basement. Almost every day rockets fly in and people die,” he says.
Katelyn Ponte-Krygowski is an English Language Acquisition instructor at Emily Griffith. She feels that if it weren’t for Emily Griffith, Alex wouldn’t be able to articulate about what the war is like. She’s also been in touch with him via email.
“It helps him to tell his story that represents the story of other Ukrainians who don’t speak English. He doesn’t have the barrier of needing an interpreter. He can communicate with everybody,” Katelyn says. “In his emails, it comes across that he loves his country fiercely. I know that he believes in fighting for his country.”
She also says he is witty, fun and has a great sense of humor.
So how can we help a fellow Emily Griffith student now living in a war-torn country?
“We have food, water and how to defend ourselves. Just tell people about how my beautiful and peaceful country is being killed. A month ago we were planning a vacation, taking care of the garden, walking in the parks and enjoying life. Now it is a horror that has no end yet. But we are sure we will win. Because truth and God are with us,” he says.
And he thanks Emily Griffith Technical College for its easy to access online classes he was able to take from abroad.
“I like studying at Emily Griffith. It’s fun, easy and simple. We talked a lot and joked a lot. I learned a lot of interesting things about the history of the USA, about the culture of different countries of the world. It was very pleasant for me to communicate with the group. I enjoyed learning. I will recommend the college to everyone. I hope after our victory I will continue my studies,” he says.