Ukrainian student shares story

Daniel Biniecki, Staff Writer

During Russia’s assault on Ukraine, many people have fled their country in fear for their lives after constant bombardment from the Russian military. One of those refugees includes newly arrived MHS freshman Alexandra Lapshova. She is from Vinnista, Ukraine. 

“The first day the war started everything was the same as every day,” Lapshova said. “When I woke up in the morning my mom heard some eruptions but we didn’t pay attention to that. We thought it was just some fireworks or kids doing some stupid things.” 

Lapshova went to school as usual, but two hours later she heard a second eruption close to her house. 

“Then my mom called me and said ‘I’m going home to pack some things,’” Lapshova said.

Lapshova’s mom told her to take some money, extra clothes, documents and copies of her and her little brother’s birth certificates so if they got separated from their parents while fleeing from Ukraine, they would have documentation confirming their identities when they fled from Ukraine. 

“Two days later Russia was attacking,” Lapshova said. “Then they were bombing the television, phone and military communication towers.”

Lapshova’s family then fled to her grandfather’s home and basement hearing sirens of airstrikes and bombings before starting to head for Poland and Ukraine’s border. The family drove for 48 hours, getting close to the border, before Lapshova’s father had to turn around due to the Martial Law saying that every man over the age of 18 must fight. 

“He couldn’t fight knowing we weren’t safe,” Lapshova said.

Her father left them on a school bus thinking it would take them to the Polish border. However, they were stopped by the Ukraine army who wouldn’t allow them to get any closer than six kilometers from the border. After taking a military vehicle to the border, then waiting in line for several hours, Lapshova’s family made it to safety in Poland, where they stayed for a couple of days before deciding to travel to the United States. 

“After I came to America I was staying in Chicago at my parents’ friend’s house and they got us here to Manhattan,” Lapshova said. 

Although saddened to have to leave Ukraine, Lapshova is grateful to everyone who has helped her. As of March 28, she enrolled at Manhattan High School and is hopeful that she’ll be able to sing at a concert sometime soon.

“All of Manhattan feels like my second home,” Lapshova said. “People here are so kind. I’m really happy and thankful for everyone who helped me.”