TCU and Pulitzer Center host conversation on Ukrainian refugees in Dallas/Fort Worth



A Syrian family covered with thermal blankets walk after they arrived from Turkey at the Greek island of Lesbos, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

By Noelle Siwek, Staff Writer

The Ukraine-Russian war has displaced 8 million of the 89.3 million people reside in Ukraine. The war has turned into a global refugee crisis. 

“The refugee crisis we are witnessing at the moment is the worst refugee crisis we have experienced,” said Amie Ferris-Rotman, a Pulitzer Center journalist. 

Most Ukrainian refugees are fleeing into Europe, but some are calling North Texas home.

Journalists, professors and families gathered together on Friday afternoon for a discussion about Ukrainian refugees in the DFW area.

This year’s TCU Journalism & Pulitzer Center event highlighted Children in Global Refugee Crisis. The moderated conversation connected journalists, host families and refugees to share their experiences.

“Children are always missing loads of family members or perhaps they are in a different European culture,” Rotman said. 

Rotman told a story about a three-year-old girl she met in London with her mother and three sisters who missed their father. She described the family’s sadness and worry for their father, who was still in Ukraine. Many men have been forced to stay in Ukraine to help in the war effort.

For mothers, this information is hard to communicate with their young children that may not understand.

Children refugees are living in a foreign place with a broken family and struggle to receive proper education. 

Children stand atop of a destroyed Russian vehicle in the city center of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

“You need to get them into these schools straight away,” journalist Will Wintercrest said. “The speed at which you get help from the trauma affects the span and the intensity of the trauma.” 

However, it is complicated for children to transition quickly into a new school. 

It’s about the roots. 

“If you take someone with Ukrainian roots and place them into a random place it affects them,” said Katie Stadler, the founder of BeHumanKindness. “The biggest challenge is operating within the cultural norms of where they are operating.” 

Be Human Kindness is an organization that helps refugee families connect with host families in the U.S. They are now operating out of two facilities in Warsaw, Poland. 

Children face hardships when entering a new culture and learning information in a different language. 

Many children are already exhausted from their long journey over the border. 

There is a mental, physical, and emotional effect on children after what can be a 24-hour journey. Most have to stop after crossing the border and sleep in a tent outside the border, get some food and rest before they can get to their final destination. 

“There is such a huge crisis and need [to] get involved,” Stadler said. 

Stadler hopes to continue helping families with young children enroll in schools in Poland or Germany. Her goal is to connect as many Ukrainian refugees as possible with host families in North Texas.