Four Ukrainian Girls Join Benenden on Free Places

Four Ukrainian Girls Join Benenden on Free Places

Benenden has welcomed four Ukrainian refugees to join the School on free places.

Everyone at the School is “happy and always smiling”, according to one of the girls to have joined Benenden after their families fled their home country.

Three of the students have joined as day pupils, living with local host families, while a fourth is boarding at Benenden.

Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price said she was pleased the School had been able to provide full bursaries for these students, who are all aged between 14 and 16.

She said: “Obviously these young women have been through an unimaginable amount of upheaval in recent months so we are pleased that we have been able to provide them with a sense of normality and the chance to continue their education in a safe and welcoming environment.

“The girls are an absolute delight. They have settled in to Benenden really well and are quickly making friends here. They have learnt lots in a short period of time with us but equally we are learning a great deal from them as well.”

Mariia, aged 16 and from Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, is the most recent Ukrainian student to join Benenden, following a protracted visa process. She is boarding full-time in the Sixth Form and said: “Benenden is beautiful and peaceful. People are relaxed and nice.”

She said that it was “completely” different to her old school in Ukraine, while 16-year-old Dasha, who has also joined the Sixth Form from Chernihiv in the north, added: “It’s like a big castle and a very modern school.”

Alisa and Liza have joined the Lower School after arriving in Kent from Kyiv.

Asked to describe Benenden, Alisa, 15, said: “A safe place after this stress. Everyone is happy and always smiling.”

Liza, 14, said: “Benenden is very good, the people are very nice. I’m very happy here, it’s amazing.”

Liza has twice featured on BBC South East Today since arriving in Kent due to her musical talent with the bandura, a Ukrainian plucked string folk instrument which she brought with her when her family left the country.

Liza’s first experience of Benenden was performing her bandura to the whole school. She said of that first concert: “It’s very special for me, very important and I’m very proud and happy I can play here.” She said her passions were theatre and music and that she had hoped to pursue a career in this field.