How is the integration of the eight Ukrainian children going in a primary school in Meurthe-et-Moselle?

Since March 29, the primary school has been transformed into French lessons for eight Ukrainian refugees every morning, taught by Anthony Debrant, a foreign language teacher. “I teach them the basics of the vocabulary, the months, the numbers, the colors, but I feel like their head is somewhere else sometimes“Eyes to the east.”They draw Russian tanks. The war is always present, even if I never bring up the topic” says the teacher. His main goal is “that they feel comfortable and integrate more and more with French school children.”

Drawn Russian tanks

It’s difficult because I speak very bad French and my children can’t communicate with other children.‘ testified Tania in a classroom at the Chaudeney-sur-Moselle school. They left Kyiv with their three children on March 2 after being locked in the basement of their home for four days. A long journey of seven days to finally reach the village of Pierre-la-T Reiche, in Meurthe-et-Moselle.

Tania carries her 3-year-old daughter Jedi in one of the classes at Mont Achey Elementary School.
Tania carries her 3-year-old daughter Jedi in one of the classes at Mont Achey Elementary School. © Radio France
Emma Dehoey

The head still in Ukraine. “My 3 year old daughter doesn’t understand what is happening but she cries a lot. She doesn’t let me go for a second,” admits the young woman with the turquoise blue eyes. “But my two adult daughters are something else. She doesn’t take her eyes off the television, in front of the images of the war. And always asks me about Grandma…” Emotion swept over her. Her mother did not want to follow them. She stayed in Sumy, a town less than 30 km from the Russian border, while the East prepares for a massive Russian offensive for these next few days.

Tania and Marina, accompanied by their children, attend primary school in France.
Tania and Marina, accompanied by their children, attend primary school in France. © Radio France
Emma Dehoey

In addition to Tania, Marina watches over her two children. The sound of Russian boots, she knew them too well. “During the 2014 Donbass war I lived in Dontesk and fled to Kyiv. And now the bombs are back. It was no longer possible, I decided to run away a second time“ says this young woman of 37 thanks to the help of a translation application.

“You have experienced trauma – Nathalie Noël, Inspector of National Education in Toul District

In the face of this trauma, we set up a psychological cell“, explains Nathalie Noël, inspector of national education in the district of Toul. But the main objective, according to Anne-Laure Terrier, the director of the establishment, is primarily educational: “Our challenge is that these children can communicate with other school children, but above all that they find their place in our school.

The children of the Mont Achey school during the playground.
The children of the Mont Achey school during the playground. © Radio France
Emma Dehoey

Delay in integration. “Oral student participation is still tentative. Some children fit in better than others. There is something in between for the older ones. We go step by step‘ confirms the principal.

Moms will have to retire soon

Next level of integration: the mothers have to gradually withdraw from the classroom. “_Only then will we see whether the integration will take effect,” the education inspector is convinced.

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