Amidst the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict, SUNY New Paltz Professor of Teaching & Learning Andrea Noel is working to support Ukrainian refugee children while in fellowship at the University of Wroclaw in Poland.
Noel and her colleague at Wroclaw, Marta Kondracka-Szala, are running a successful fundraiser on GoFundMe to provide assistance Polish teachers working with Ukrainian children, and meet a need for books and learning materials that bridge the language barrier in these classrooms.
“Our aim is to reach 25 schools and offer books and bilingual materials, which will help teachers meet the needs of these particular children who are traumatized and don’t speak a word of Polish,” she said in a YouTube announcement for the online fundraiser.
This is not the work Noel expected to be doing last year, when she received a prestigious Ulam Programme fellowship from the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange, but it is in line with the broader focus and mission of her research on early childhood education in Eastern Europe. She is currently researching historical systems of early childhood education and care during times of political upheaval and migration.
Being in Poland in early 2022 has given her a clear and immediate perspective on the needs of Ukrainian refugee children at schools outside their besieged homeland. Her project is helping to meet those needs: At time of this article’s publication, the fundraiser has nearly doubled the original goal of $5,000.
“I’m super pleased with the amount of support thus far,” she said. “I am with the Polish people – all parts of the population – and so many different people are involved in helping the Ukrainian people feel welcomed. It’s a great show of humanity!”