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Pearland teen teaching English to student in Ukraine through the war

The nonprofit's founder says this is what her nearly 4,000 teenage volunteers across the country are dealing with.

PEARLAND, Texas — A local teenager is getting a front-row seat to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She’s tutoring a girl from Ukraine and is continuing to do so through this conflict.

15-year-old Kavya Vivekanand is a 10th grader at Shadow Creek High School who wanted to volunteer during the pandemic.  She’s a volunteer with a nonprofit called ENGin.

This nonprofit started two years ago and its goal is to connect Ukrainian students with English-speaking students to help them improve. But those conversations and lessons are very different now for many of them.

Vivekanand was paired with 12-year-old Valentyna, but after 2 years of friendship, Vivekanand now has front-row seat to what is happening in Ukraine.

"She says we have a war now and it is really bad and very scary. People die children cry, enemies destroy the sites and beauty of Ukraine," said Vivekanand. 

The nonprofit's founder says this is what her nearly 4,000 teenage volunteers across the country are dealing with.

"Which is not what we expected at all, we feel bad almost but also they get to see the reality, it's not just in the news. They realize it's real people," said Katerina Manoff, the founder of Engin. 

ENGin shared a video of its students on its Facebook sharing their personal messages about the war. 


🔵 The war lasts eight years already, but only recently the enemy took a swing on more – civil lands. Now it hits military infrastructures, calling it a defence. But it also hits residential buildings, kindergartens where civils hide. It hits hospitals. It even hit a zoo. 🟡 Why do we have to wake up from sounds of explosions and military aircrafts? Only because some people in Russian Government decided to play in God? 🔵 The enemy wanted blitzkrieg. Well, we’re still standing. We stand as tight as our warriors on Zmiyiniy island. Exactly our actions describes our whole nation. We rather die on our land, defending it, not giving any piece of it than surrender and become slaves. 🟡 Ukraine is a strong nation with strong people. And if you’re ready to accept us to NATO already, we’ll complement it. I guess now it’s clear that we’re worthy. We don’t take foreign lands. We’re defending ours. 🔵 We’re grateful for all tries to help us. Even for the smallest ones. We see it, we know it. But if you have the abiity, we’ll take future help too. At least sharing this video for information dissemination. If you want to help our army, there is official bank account to send money for Ukrainian forces. We are all people. We all want peace. And it’s time to remove the ones who don’t. Слава Україні! Героям Слава! 🇺🇦 STAND WITH UKRAINE 🇺🇦 _________ Thanks our partners for the video.

Posted by ENGin on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

"It's very important for them to be heard. It can be bewildering and they want to tell their story," said Manoff.  

And despite the war and around 6,000 miles that divide them, they’ve formed a strong connection.

"We are definitely good friends now," said Vivekanand. 

A bond they hope remains even after the war

"I hope that she remains safe and the rest of them remain safe and innocent people stop getting killed," said Vivekanand.

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