Chicago — What may look like a typical day of remote learning is anything but that for children in Ukraine. Their teachers, who are in Chicago, are using dance to distract them from the war.
“Our responsibility is to put a smile on our face. Pretend like nothing’s happening for those 45 minutes and make it strictly about the dance lesson. That’s it,” Nastia Lototska, who is part of the Hromovytsia Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, told CBS News.
Some of the children — whose faces will not be shown for their safety — spend their nights in bomb shelters. Their dance teachers try to help them forget their fear with classes over Zoom.
“We get joy from seeing them being joyful. But I get satisfaction knowing what kind of parents they have because you’ve seen the strength and resolve and resilience of the Ukrainian people and their patriotism,” Tania Kurropa, who is also part of the dance ensemble, told CBS News.
“They’re telling you about their day or showing us their pets, which is incredible given the circumstances,” Lototska added.
The dance school is in the Chicago neighborhood known as the Ukrainian Village, where large crowds recently gathered for an anti-war rally. Even elementary school children recently protested in the neighborhood. They’re fighting for the innocence of Ukrainian children half a world away.
“They’re our anchor of hope. They are our light. They remind us of what our purpose is,” Lototska said.
Adriana Diaz is a CBS News correspondent based in Chicago and is the anchor of Saturday’s edition of the “CBS Weekend News.”