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Breaking the Language Barrier Between Ukrainian Refugees and Swiss Students Through Games

This update came to us from Sasha - a Play for Peace club leader at an international school in Switzerland. During the pandemic, they paused the program. As a part of their school curriculum, students chose a Service Learning Project, the one that Sasha currently leads is where they learn about PFP and do their service learning/ community service. Here's what she had to say:

So far Switzerland has taken in around 40,000 refugees from Ukraine. Two refugee centers have been opened not far from our school. When the 2022 Service Learning project started it went without saying that our service would be for Ukrainian refugees currently staying in Switzerland. The Play for Peace group went to one of the centers to meet the Ukrainian children. In the beginning, the biggest challenge was communication as almost none of us spoke any Russian or Ukrainian. But then the game magic began to work. The language barriers were quickly destroyed by the laughter and joy of play. One week later we invited the refugee children to have lunch made by our students and to play some games.

Here's what one of my students wrote about that day in the school Year Book:

During the special week, our class in conjunction with two other service-learning groups organized a fun but engaging activity for thirty-two Ukrainian refugees, whose ages ranged from 3 to 14. Our service-learning group went to the refugee center to pick up the children. We sadly couldn't take everyone who wanted to come to our school since there were only thirty-two seats on our bus. When we arrived at le Rosey, another service-learning group had cooked pizzas, and we all ate, along with the refugees. After lunch, we played the 'fruit' game to organize the children into different groups for the afternoon activities. In the morning, we created seven different stations, such as musical chairs, moonball, limbo, and other activities for the children. Each activity was meant to last 7 minutes, so the children would get to do them all. When we all finished, we took them for some cookies, then they went back on the bus and left.

It was a great learning experience, and it was enjoyable to do and organize. After, it was pretty sad when the children were going as they all asked, "so, when will we see you again?" and we had to tell them that they would most likely never see us again. It was unfortunate and very humbling. However, we are trying to organize more activities with them soon.

The Play for Peace group also organized a bake sale and we could fundraise money to buy some essentials for refugees. We visited two other refugee centers in Lausanne and decided to decorate one of them because its grey walls looked too somber.

Two weeks later we invited the Ukrainian children again to our school and organized a cinema and ice-cream afternoon for them. We watched together a cartoon in Ukrainian with English subtitles.

Next school year we’re planning to continue to encourage our students to reach out to those in need showing kindness, empathy, and support.

Have a nice summer!

- Sasha

Thank you Sasha for this inspiring update! We can't wait to hear more stories like this one from our leaders in countries in other areas of the globe. We're so grateful that Sasha has been able to bring healing and strength to Ukrainian youth through our programming.

Is our work necessary? If you believe so, we encourage you to help us continue this incredible work by making a quick donation to our organization. You are the reason we are able to do what we do today.

Thank you!

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