Ukrainian Foreign Exchange Student In Michigan Unable to Go Home

Katherine Nitsenko came to the U.S. in August 2021. She was excited to make new friends, learn a new culture, and see America. Something she said, she’s only ever seen in movies.

While in Michigan,  she’s been watching her home country be completely destroyed and invaded by Russia.

“A lot of people, their lives, their apartments, their houses… everything is destroyed,” she said.  “I don’t know how they’ll build Ukraine again.” 

Katherine is from Mykolaiv, a city on the southwest side of Ukraine, about six hours from Kyiv. Her mom and dad are still in Ukraine, hiding in bomb shelter and the basement of their apartment. 

“I wish I could be in Ukraine, she said. “Now I am really scared of what’s happening there. I wish I could be there with my family, and with my friends. If I could, I would go there now, but it’s not safe.”

Nancy and Mel Kiogima are Katherine’s host parents. They said they’re doing their best trying to support her and are happy she’s safe.

“We aren’t quite sure how we can help her,” Nancy said. “It’s just so heavy. When we see the news on TV, we’ll be watching it, and we’ll see all the bombing going on. If we hear her door open, we’ll flick the channel to something else.” 

Katherine was supposed to leave in June to go back to Ukraine, but because of the war, she’s unable to leave. She said all her airports back home back been bombed. 

I want people here to know that it’s really happening, and it’s not very far,” she said. “If it’s happening to Ukraine, it can happen to any country. The Russian troops can be anywhere and they really kill people.” 

On March 26, Nancy and Mel are putting on a fundraiser for Katherine, who’s also a ballroom dancer. The money will help support living expenses while she’s in the U.S. Before the war, her parents were sending her money, but now funds are limited. On Saturday, they will be presenting Jean Guilt, a professional dancer, choreographer, instructor, and competitor. The fundraiser will take place at Bodies in Motion Dance Studio in Traverse City. For more information, call (231)-649-0065.

Categories: Michigan This Morning