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The Official Student Publication of Page High School

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The Official Student Publication of Page High School

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Ukrainian Refugee Kseniia Botezat Finds Her Place in America


In February of 2022, Russia invaded its neighboring country Ukraine. Lives were uprooted, families thrown into chaos, worlds turned upside down. For many Ukrainian citizens, the solution became clear: they needed to get out. This was the case for Kseniia-Mariia Botezat, a 15-year-old girl living in Ukkraine with her family. Kseniia’s parents Vitalii and Nadiia made the decision to send their daughter to live temporarily with relatives in the United States. Vitalii and Nadiia were unable to accompany Kseniia in her journey to the United States for family reasons. So, two weeks after the Russian invasion began, Kseniia-Mariia Botezat set off overseas on her own. After living with her paternal grandparents and aunt for six months, it was still unsafe for Kseniia to return to her family in Ukraine. It soon became clear that this move to the US would become more of an extended stay than the Botezats had originally planned.

Kseniia, now 17 years old, has since excelled at finding her place in the United States. A senior at Southeast Guilford High School, Botezat describes her experience in adjusting to this new period in her life. She says “Honestly, adjusting wasn’t too difficult for me since I felt like I belonged here from the start. Everything just fell into place, and I began to thrive in this environment.” Upon moving to the United States, Ksennia says she “discovered new talents [she] never knew [she] had, like painting, drawing, and sculpting.” The discovery of these new talents came from none other than Botezat’s experience in her Health Science class at Southeast. She says “I never knew I could draw until last year when in Health Science class people started complimenting my little drawings. I noticed that beautiful projects are being appreciated here and I just [dove] in.” Kseniia gets much of her inspiration for her art pieces from anatomy, as she intends to pursue a career in the medical field. Some of her artworks are pictured below.

Botezat also describes the people that have helped her as she became accustomed to her new surroundings and lifestyle. “I’ve encountered many kind-hearted people who have helped shape me into the person I am today,” says Kseniia. In fact, Botezat has become so immersed in her new school’s student body that she was even elected 2023 Homecoming Queen by her peers at Southeast Guilford. Kseniia describes the moment she walked across the football field to be crowned. “At that moment, my heart raced so fast I could hear it thundering louder than the cheering crowd. It was surreal to realize that in just a year, I had transformed from an unknown Ukrainian girl into the Homecoming Queen. My heart overflowed with gratitude towards all my friends who had supported me along the way… I was incredibly flattered.” Botezat further describes the sense of incredulity she felt at having experienced such a full-circle moment, saying “Exactly a year prior, as I puzzled over why they halted a football game for people dressed to the nines, my friend confidently pointed out the spot where I would stand the following year. I chuckled and brushed it off, but looking back now, it’s amusing how right he was.”

While Kseniia’s newfound life in the United States acts as an inspirational story for many, it has not been without challenge. Botezat describes her struggles with overcoming the language barrier upon her move. “Despite having a decent grasp of English when I arrived, basic interactions couldn’t prepare me for navigating through an advanced school program in my third language. I had to start from scratch to keep up with my peers, absorbing basic knowledge they had acquired throughout their lives,” she says. Despite the difficulties of adjusting to a society in which people did not speak her first language, Kseniia refused to be deterred from finding her place in North Carolina. She details her efforts to overcome this obstacle, saying “Countless hours spent reading books, watching films, engaging in public speaking, chatting with friends, and staying up late trying to understand my homework- all of that was part of my journey to achieve my goal of mastering the language.” It goes without saying that all of these efforts have paid off.

As she detailed her experiences with the new people she’s met and opportunities she’s had in the United States, Kseniia also speaks fondly of her family back in Ukraine, with whom she is extremely close. Kseniia says “I talk to my parents practically every day, keeping that family connection strong through phone calls. I’m hoping to see them soon.” The distance between them does not mean that Kseniia’s parents and other family members in Ukraine are not a part of her life. In fact, Kseniia recalls the moment she shared the honor of being elected Homecoming Queen with her family. She says “On that magical night, as I proudly placed the crown upon my head during a family conference call, the room erupted with applause, laughter, and tears of joy and pride. It was a moment so beautiful, so unforgettable.”

As an aspiring journalist myself, Kseniia-Mariia Botezat is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever had the pleasure of holding a conversation with. Her bravery and resilience is beyond admirable, especially for someone so young. Her willingness and ability to learn and adapt to an entirely new society, culture, and lifestyle should serve as an inspiration to anyone lucky enough to hear her story.


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Taylor Meister
Taylor Meister, Editor-in-Chief
Hi, my name is Taylor, and I'm a senior this year. I'm planning on going into sports journalism after college.

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