Waterloo Region teens tutor Ukraine students who can’t go to school
Local students, who started a tutoring program during the pandemic, have expanded their services to Ukraine.
Homework Hub, a youth-led tutoring program based out of Waterloo Region, is teaching students in the worn-torn country who can’t attend class due to the Russian invasion.
"Sometimes I can’t do my homework because we going to our bomb shelters, so because of this, I can't do my homework or do my lesson," said 14-year-old Liza Riabokin, a Ukrainian student who is using Homework Hub.
Riabokin lives in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, about 200 kilometers north of the city of Mariupol, which has been a target of Russian troops during the war.
"Yesterday I heard like two big booms near my house, it was terrible," she said.
Because of the war, schools have closed down and switched to online. Riabokin has to seek safety in her bomb shelter about two to three times a day.
"It’s so sad," she said.
She joined Homework Hub to keep up with her studies, having heard of the program through her aunt’s friend.
Once a week, Riabokin logs into Google Meet to connect with her Canadian tutor.
"I learned a lot," she said. "I think my English skills are better now."
Paris Cai and her friends started Homework Hub in January 2021, at the peak of the pandemic, after noticing many students were struggling with remote learning.
She said once the war started in Ukraine, she wanted to extend the program to the worn-torn country to help students there.
"It’s so inspiring that Ukrainian students are even looking to pursue education right now at this time, because of how unstable their lives are," Cai said.
The program has also spread to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe and the United States.
"I’m really glad that something I started with my friends can make such an impact on not only my community, but on communities' seas away," said Phoebe Luo, a co-founder of Homework Hub.
Organizers of the tutoring program said there's roughly 1,600 students using their services and 60 of them are from Ukraine.
"It’s really growing," said Angela Zielke-Stray, who takes care of marketing the program. "We are in constant need of more tutors because the demand is so high."
Riabokin said she’s grateful for the help from her Canadian tutors.
"It’s a great experience to talk with native speakers, it's amazing to know people from Canada."
HOW TO BECOME A TUTOR
To become a volunteer tutor, visit the website homeworkhubtutoring.org to sign up.
Tutors must be 14-years-old and older and maintain good academic grades. Tutors are also able to earn volunteer hours.
Each volunteer will be paired with an elementary student and tutor a 45-minute class every week for and eight-week session.