The Crisis in Ukraine: ISP students learning and contributing

As we’re sure you’re all aware, the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine has had a major impact on the world, and especially on our lives in Prague. As an international school we accept everyone, not only without regard to their race or nationality, but even celebrating our differences in events such as the culture and language weeks we host. This conflict has brought up rising political tensions and violence everywhere, but we want to remind you, ISP is a safe space for everyone. No person or family will be classified or discriminated against for their country’s actions.

This conflict has brought up rising political tensions and violence everywhere, but we want to remind you, ISP is a safe space for everyone.

With the Czech Republic taking more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the country, we are learning to aid and accommodate the people who need our help, and that is especially prevalent in our school life. Knowing that the Czech Republic has already donated 1.5 billion CZK to Ukraine, we ask ourselves, how can we, as Changemakers, make a difference too? And in addition to this, what can be learned and taken away from this experience? This week’s story will focus on how students are stepping up to help out, learning about and dealing with the challenges of logistics, coordinating multiple efforts, and managing projects and time

“Two weeks ago the whole crisis started. I was so impressed by students’ ideas on how to help people in Ukraine as well as to refugees coming to Czech Republic. Students from all sections came directly to me with concrete projects and started to help with everything needed. I would like to thank them all! I am proud of them!

Pavlina Koukalova, ISP’s Community Service Coordinator ISPhelps@isp.cz

Around the school we’ve witnessed many amazing student initiatives start up or grow to support the crisis, and we’d love to share them with you if you want to help or contribute in any way.  But first, some background information.

What is Dignity Restoring Hope?

Dignity has been supporting displaced people entering the Czech Republic since 2015. Their work is vital to help people into a new country. They work closely with refugees who have arrived from countries all over the world, and help aid in transportation, housing and needed supplies.

Please see this video for some of the key efforts linked to supporting Dignity Restoring Hope, including Upper School Multimedia Storytellers collection point, fundraiser through the sale of Ukraine flag pins and hot chocolate, as well as Grade 8 students, led by Lexi Rizzo, sorting and packing donations for Dignity.

What is FriendShip Prague?

Friendship is a nonprofit organization which exists to provide support and friendship to people in need in Prague. It is an English-speaking network of Czechs and Expats who mainly help the homeless but since the crisis have been expanding their efforts.

ISP’s efforts: It takes a village and coordination

What many refugee and relief organizations have realized in the current situation, as the volume and rate is at an unprecedented level in their experience, coordinating efforts is key. In addition to Ms. Pavlina’s coordination and liaison for the entire school community, the Upper School has a Community Service club, led by Delanie Strebel, who shared the following reflection: 

“I think this is the first time out of my 12 years at ISP that I’ve seen students working together to help one crisis. We have a unified umbrella focusing on the crisis rather than focusing on our own disparate individual projects. This crisis and our related efforts have also highlighted the importance of understanding our local NGO’s. We need to work with them to see what local help is needed with the unprecedented volume of refugees arriving in the Czech Republic right now. Organizations need help but figuring out how best to help and not step on their toes is part of our learning.I am excited to help coordinate our efforts and to see students stepping up to help each other.”

ISP’s student efforts

  • Ukrainian pins will be sold in the cafeteria by the Multimedia team.
  • Everyday in the reception the collection for FriendShip & Dignity continues. See link for needed materials.
  • #ArtforPeaceinUkraine is an ongoing initiative for students to spread the message of peace, created by Pechersk School International (IB World School based in Kyiv, Ukraine). Students will Create their own art piece to reflect what peace means to them. Submit your art to this padlet and contact nikitav@psi.kiev.ua if you have any questions.
  • On March 16th a special issue of ISPrint will be published covering the history, current events and reasons for the Ukrainian conflict.
  • Collection for furniture and equipment for apartment – please see the LIST, and in case you have something you can donate from the list please contact Nelleke Wolters – nelleke.wolters@gmail.com- directly.
  • Please scan this QR code created specially for the ISP Community if you want to donate to the Czech Red Cross. They have these options to buy medical supplies in bigger quantities and they are able to deliver it directly to Ukraine. From March 10 till March 17 the first drive will be going on. The only info you need to fill in is the amount you want to donate.

However if you would like to help directly via Dignity and:

  • You live in Prague and wish to volunteer, please complete and submit this form.
  • You have accommodation to offer to house people, please complete and submit this form.
  • You have transportation and are willing to offer this, please complete and submit this form.

Thank you to everyone in the ISP community who has contributed to this crisis as we collectively learn how to unite our efforts to have the biggest impact as compassionate changemakers.