PERRYSBURG — What should be a celebratory time is instead a time of uncertainty as 17-year-old Ukrainian Iryna Snahoshchenko is concerned about her home.
She is a foreign exchange student through the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). Snahoshchenko is soon to graduate from Perrysburg High School. Lindsey Simpson and Nathaniel Wrestler have hosted her in their home since August.
Snahoshchenko currently is without any future plans after graduation. One of the biggest reasons is the war waging on in her homeland.
“It just came so sadly, and out of the blue, that I didn’t really have a plan,” she said. “This time is definitely pretty much stressful for me and all my fellow people from Ukraine. … And obviously, come combining it with schoolwork, and with graduation, and all of those things that I have to do is, is pretty difficult.
“I just couldn’t believe that it was actually happening in my country. And that my parents were there. It’s just such an unforgettable experience in a bad way. And the first two weeks probably felt the worst. It was kind of surreal to just walk around the school and see people live their normal lives, while … all of my thoughts were there in Ukraine with my family and friends who I didn’t know what was happening to them, and what could happen to them. So, (it’s) definitely hard,” Snahoshchenko said.
Her family and friends are safe and unharmed, she said. A few of her friends left Ukraine to take refuge elsewhere. But her family and many of her friends are still in Ukraine. She is thankful to be able to stay in touch with them and tell them how much she loves them.
Snahoshchenko organized an item donation drive with Toledo Helps Ukraine at her school, gathering over 200 Clorox wipes. She’s also organized a bake sale and car wash with her local coordinator.
“I just had to figure out what, what actions I had to do in order to somehow help Ukraine, even if it’s little, but I really, really wanted to help and spread the knowledge and gather money. And just help whatever I can. And I’m pretty sure that I will get through this. And so now, I just have to adjust and be flexible in the situation and just trying to do the best I can under those circumstances that I have,” Snahoshchenko said.
She is a part of Key Club, Interact Club, Environmental Club, Speech and Debate Club and takes Chinese. She performed in Perrysburg High School’s production of “The Addams Family.”
She loves getting to meet new people with different backgrounds at her American school.
Snahoshchenko shared her gratitude towards her teachers.
“I have so many great teachers at my school,” she said. “They all contribute to my development and support me, and maybe the class is fun in their own different and unique way. So, I love them all.”
Snahoshchenko said she plans to go back home when it’s safe.