VIDEO: Sister City Visit to Hopkins Enriches a Variety of Lives

The Ukrainian students weren’t the only ones who came away fulfilled. Host families, mentors and their families back home all gained from the experience.

The group of Ukrainian students visiting Hopkins has had no shortage of experiences since the students arrived Oct. 31.

The youth—whose visit was part of an exchange program with Hopkins’ sister city, Boryspil—got to experience Halloween, Election Day, Thanksgiving and, of course, Black Friday. They toured the state Capitol, local companies and Hopkins facilities. And they developed plans for how they can be leaders back in their home country.

But the teens weren’t the only ones enriched by the experience. The support network around them—host families, stateside mentors who talked with them about their experiences and their families back home—all benefited.

Read below to see how the program affected a representative from each of those groups.


A parent

First of all I would like to thank all of the organizers for such a warm welcome of the Ukrainian children and to note the high level of the program. I have been able to see my daughter with new eyes. I have never thought before that my daughter is interested in making any business plan! The master class in making a business plan for a children’s café organized during the program made an indelible impression on Anastasiya. I think that this may influence the choice of her profession in the future. The truth is that Anastasiya is convinced her dream is to study at an American university.

In addition, she has especially recognized the need to improve English and to gain new knowledge. Furthermore, making new friends is very valuable for us. I feel like I have known the Johnsons (Anastasiya’s host family) for all my life!

To sum up, our children have got invaluable experience, which will influence their future.

~ Yuliya Nesteriak—mother of Anastasiya Nesteriak, one of the visiting students


A host family

Adorable, respectful, intelligent, loving, and fun—only a few of the words that describe Darina Polishchuk. Our family was honored to host this exchange student. The opportunity to learn about the Ukraine culture, traditional foods and customs was a gift we will always cherish, especially as I am not sure that Ukraine was necessarily on our “bucket list” of places to explore. A special thank you to the Hopkins leaders who supported this program.  

 ~ Dan, Nancy and Molly Bauer—host family for Darina Polishchuk


A mentor

I have had the tremendous pleasure of being a mentor to Iryna Moroz. She is 13, an eighth grader. I have been blown away by how mature, poised, insightful and intelligent she is! She has been very open and interested in every opportunity that has been presented to her—full of questions about life here, how we deal with various issues in our community and families, what our family lives are like, our work life, volunteer experiences and so on. Big questions, lots of thought on Iryna's part, it's hard to believe she is only 13. She jumped into this experience with both feet and clearly wants to absorb everything about life in the United States that she can. She also loves to have fun! She laughs easily and is excited to find one more way to have a great time. I have no doubt that she will take things that she has learned back to her life in Ukraine. Iryna and I will stay in touch through e-mail and Facebook, and it will be a treat to watch her as she grows into a fine young woman. I hope she comes back to visit often to Hopkins!

~ City Councilwoman Molly Cummings—mentor to Iryna Moroz


On Sunday, the Ukrainian students hosted a farewell celebration at the Fire Department that looked back on the memories they made over the past month and thanked those who made it possible. The group cooked a hearty meal of traditional Ukrainian food and sang two Ukrainian songs. Click on the video above to listen to them perform the songs.


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