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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Saint Bernard School to welcome Ukrainian students

    Montville — As the school year inches closer and their home country continues to fight off a Russian invasion, seven students from Ukraine are getting a chance to learn in Connecticut.

    Apex International Education Partners, or AIEP, is collaborating with Saint Bernard School to bring seven Ukrainian high school students to the United States to continue their education.

    Nearly three months of preparation are set to come to fruition when the first two students arrive on July 30.

    "Saint Bernard's has long engaged in the mission of helping the less fortunate,“ Donald Macrino, head of Saint Bernard School, said in a news release Tuesday morning. ”While the war in Ukraine is one of many crises in the world today, the opportunity to help children who have escaped from war continue their education could not be ignored."

    Macrino said the school first got wind of the opportunity through Cathy Brown, the school’s director of admissions and international programs. She had heard of Ukrainian students seeking refuge, Macrino said, and once she brought that information to the school officials, they connected with AIEP.

    “When we heard of that, we opened our doors immediately,” Macrino said on the phone Wednesday. “It’s the fundamental message of our school.”

    The school relies on AIEP to help make arrangements for its international students.

    “Our history of working with Saint Bernard School, homestay support staff and our long record of giving back — both to the local and international communities — gives us pleasure to announce our support for this program,” David Guerrera, president of AIEP, said in the news release.

    AIEP, which is based out of Derby, said students will not have to bear any of the costs associated with the endeavor. Saint Bernard waived all tuition costs and fees for the students — including textbooks and uniforms — and will provide meal credits and a laptop to each student at no cost.

    While host families who take in the students will receive a monthly stipend of $500 funded by donations, AIEP is responsible for each student’s insurance costs and handling the logistics of homestay, which is a period abroad spent staying in the home of a local family. The company is offering free access to its dormitories in Derby until each student is matched with a host family. Though two students already are set up with families when they arrive in the U.S., AIEP is looking for five more volunteers.

    Macrino sent a message out early in this endeavor to the Saint Bernard Community — parents of current students and graduates — asking for people to open their homes for these students. He said he started receiving emails within hours.

    “In horrific times like we’re seeing now with this war in Europe, its pretty incredible to see the local people step up,” Macrino said.

    He said those who volunteer will have to go through AIEP’s multilayered vetting process before being paired with a student.

    Saint Bernard School is a Roman Catholic, co-ed college preparatory school in Uncasville for sixth through 12th grades. Co-sponsored by by the Diocese of Norwich and the Xaverian Brothers, Saint Bernard “welcomes students of all faith backgrounds who value academic excellence, personal and spiritual growth, and a commitment to community,” the school’s welcome page reads.

    Founded in 2011, AIEP initially was established to help high and middle schools in the United States recruit students from China and provide host homes. The company’s focus is to promote more diverse classrooms across the country while developing cultural awareness among students and making the process of moving, living and learning abroad less cumbersome.

    Those interested in hosting a student are encouraged to email info@aiepusa.com.


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