When Linda Rudachyk brought Vlad Malezhyk for his first tour of RJC High School, she teased him on the walk to the front door. “Vlad, you’re gonna sing. Do you sing?” she asked. He was certain the answer was no.
Vlad arrived in Canada in June. After enduring a month of bombing at his home in Ukraine, living in the basement with no heat or running water, his family fled, staying in Romania for two months before coming to Canada. Vlad didn’t speak much English and had not really enjoyed school back home. When Linda, who coordinates the sponsorship group that brought Vlad’s family to Rosthern, suggested that he would be in choir at RJC he repeatedly told her “no.”
At the first concert of the year in September, there was Vlad singing in the choir. And that’s just one small change. Since starting at RJC his family noticed that he’s happier than he had been. Vlad’s dad Pavlo Malezhyk said that he’s had some difficult years with remote school during COVID, then the displacement from the war, so it has made a difference for Vlad to be with other students his age.
“He’s got some social experience now,” said Pavlo. “Much nicer than it was his last half year.”
Since coming to RJC, Vlad enjoyed activities such as the retreat to Christopher Lake or going tubing. And he’s been more positive about the classes too.
“They tell us that he didn’t like school any days of his life until he came into RJC,” said Linda. Pavlo suspects this change is because, compared to Ukraine, RJC has a less rigid and more holistic approach to education, and it feels like teachers are more invested in a relationship with students.
The connection between Vlad’s family and RJC began before they arrived in Rosthern. Once the sponsorship group found a house to fit the family, they needed to get it fixed up quickly. Linda called the school and asked if RJC could send students to help with yard work and painting.
Vlad’s family is one of three that this sponsorship group brought to Rosthern. And while it has been a lot of work, their arrival has been a blessing to the community.
“I would say, without a doubt, that we have loved every minute of it,” says Linda. “It’s just been nothing but a blessing for us.”