Three Ukrainian teens took part in a summer school in Bulgaria after World ORT facilitated their departure from the war-affected country to join peers for the chance to learn digital skills.
It took more than 24 hours as they crossed thousands of kilometers by road and then rail from their Ukrainian home cities—first across the border to Poland and then by plane to Sofia.
Natan Hen from Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region and Ihor Belinskiy from an ORT school in Kyiv, both 15, as well as 16-year-old Polina Tymofieieva, who traveled furthest from the ORT school in Zaporizhzhia, participated in the World ORT Digital Skills Academy.
The two-week program, taught by skilled professionals, deepens students’ experience in photography, video and audio production. Natan studied video editing; Polina took an audio production course; and Ihor focused on photography skills.
Anna Chumakova, an ORT Ukraine staff member based in Kyiv, joined the trio on the journey and at the camp. She said that “the kids were so excited to take part. Combining the opportunity to have a distraction from life at home and the constant air raids with the chance to learn so much and have this priceless experience was really an amazing thing.”
During the camp, Polina played guitar and recorded a Ukrainian song about hope and the future in a professional-standard studio. A fellow student attending the summer school from Lithuania filmed the experience and created a short video for social media.
“The summer school was an opportunity for me to distract myself from the reality of life in Ukraine and to gain a lot of new knowledge to help build my future career,” she said. “We worked so enthusiastically on our projects and attained a really high level.”
“The camp had an atmosphere of peace, mutual support and friendship. It was a place where dreams could come true. I had always dreamed of recording a song in a professional studio. I was so pleased we recorded a Ukrainian song; it was very important for me. I have a lot of precious memories from this summer school.”
Ihor’s work featured experimental approaches to the use of light in photography and images of his fellow camp participants.
“Thank you to the new friends and teachers who were with us all the time,” he said. “I had a lot of fun, and I’ll remember this—the memories will stay in my heart.”
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)