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Ukrainian evacuee gives international culture lecture at west Japan elementary school

Iryna Malysheva, left, explains the Ukrainian version of the rock-scissors-paper game in a lecture held at an elementary school in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on June 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenichi Isono)

RITTO, Shiga -- A Ukrainian evacuee in Japan addressed a group of elementary school children in an international culture lecture here on June 1, encouraging them to learn about other parts of the world.

    The lecture was given by Iryna Malysheva, 31, who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine and is now living in the city of Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. Her son Mark Chuplyi, 8, attends school that has a class teaching students about foreign culture and diversity, and she was invited there to talk. She spoke to 83 third-graders including Mark, and told them, "Please study hard, eat your school lunches and learn a lot about the world."

    Iryna Malysheva, right, is seen wearing a traditional Ukrainian costume alongside her son Mark Chuplyi at his elementary school in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on June 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenichi Isono)

    In the class, three other non-Japanese guardians of students at the school taught students about life and food in their home countries while showing them pictures.

    Clad in a traditional Ukrainian costume with a floral ornament on her head, Iryna introduced school life in her country, saying: "Ukrainian schools have a three-month summer break starting in June, and the enrollment ceremony is held in September. Each class is 40 minutes long, and there are 20-minute recesses." The lecturers also talked about the rock-scissors-paper game in their countries, and Iryna explained that Ukrainians also use gestures meaning paper, rock and scissors, like in Japan.

    She said after the class, "Initiatives like this are very wonderful, and I'm moved." She also said that she has gradually become accustomed to life in Japan since she arrived here about two months ago and now does shopping by herself using an interpretation app on her smartphone.

    Ukrainian evacuee Iryna Malysheva, far left, introduces representative dishes of her home country to students at an elementary school in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on June 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenichi Isono)

    According to the school, Mark is looking forward to calligraphy classes and also very interested in swimming classes, which will start this month. Iryna added with a smile that her son has friends who greet him in the Ukrainian language and that he enjoys playing with everyone.

    (Japanese original by Kenichi Isono, Kusatsu Resident Bureau)

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