5,115 Miles Apart
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5,115 Miles Apart

By Jacob Williams

Yaroslav Kobernyk remembers his thoughts when he heard the first explosion at 5 a.m. in his apartment in Ukraine.  He thought it was thunder.

Yaroslav, who goes by the nickname Yarik, soon realized after the second explosion that he was wrong. Russian planes had dropped two bombs on army bases near the apartment. 


Yarik is a junior at Delta High School. He came here this summer from Zhashkiv, Ukraine. 

Yarik left Zhashiv to Europe to go live with his second cousin Daniel Tokar and some of Daniel’s family members. They all left in the middle of March after the Russians invaded their country in February 2022.

Boy in city
Yarik Kobernyk visits Chicago. (Photo by Daniel Tokar)

Daniel, a freshman, and Yarik and other family members live in a home about two miles southeast of Delta High School.  

The conflict between the countries has gone on for years, but the situation got much worse this year.

Another scary situation was when Yarik had to go to the apartment’s basement. The reason was because Russian planes flew over their apartment and everyone that was down there spent three hours.

“That was the longest time I had spent down there,” Yarik said. 

He used to do judo, basketball and volleyball in Ukraine before he left. His favorite out of the three is judo. 

Yarik wanted to be a part of his church in Ukraine so he helped with the sound system. He is working with cameras at Union Chapel in Muncie.

Yarik has troubles with the language barrier during school. 

“He understands a lot, but it is harder for him but he is working on it,” Mrs. Emily Lamb, a special services teacher, said. “He was I think not excited about learning English at first, but he is trying more now.”

It is hard for him to communicate with people because he only understands more of the simple words. 

School assignments are more time consuming because he has to translate it to Ukrainian and do it and then copy the answers in English. 

“Some of the assignments that he does, he will do like twice because he has to do them in Ukrainian and then he has to do them in English so he puts in a lot of time and effort to do well in school,” Mrs. Lamb said. “Yarik is a very hard worker.”

Daniel Tokar and Mrs. Lamb both agree that Yarik is a happy and positive person.

“He’s always happy,” Daniel said.

“He has a really sweet personality, he is very positive, and he always has a good attitude about things,” Mrs. Lamb said. 

Yarik likes some of the differences between school here and school in Ukraine. Yarik likes all the different food options and many of the teachers here.

Yarik’s mom and dad are still in Ukraine. His mom is a nurse and his dad is a construction worker. Daniel’s uncles are in the war fighting for Ukraine’s freedom.

December 14, 2022

About Author

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Jacob Williams Jacob Williams is a sophomore at Delta High School. He is a multi-sport athlete who likes to play baseball and tennis. You will never see this kid have a frown but he will always have a crown (king).


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