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The History of the LAURA Program
 

While in the USA for tourism on February 24, Ukrainian Elizabeth Arhunova found herself in the status of a refugee due to Russia's massive invasion of Ukraine. By twist of fate, she began the challenging journey of an immigrant-refugee. On the path of her personal adaptation, she gathered a lot of valuable information and resources, which she decided to share on this website with the aim of helping her fellow countrymen quickly find necessary resources and ease their way in the new country.
Thus, Elizabeth became one of the active participants in the city's Ukrainian community, which continues to grow amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Exploring possible assistance programs for people in refugee status, Elizabeth discovered the limited resources of these programs. The online language assistance resource for those who need to learn English right now to adapt quickly in a new country and financially and socially secure their lives was critically limited. The free education system for people in need is very weak. The queues to get into similar free programs are 6-8 months long...

And Elizabeth took on the mission to find resources to create effective language support for Ukrainian refugees!

She wrote letters to local community organizations and schools, requesting collaboration to organize online English language training for the Ukrainian refugee community.

Thanks to her belief in her idea and her perseverance, her active efforts led her to meet Blair Bourassa, a teacher and vice-director of the HOFT Institute in Austin. After negotiations with him and emphasizing the critical need for language support for Ukrainian refugees, Blair Bourassa agreed to teach a small group of local Ukrainian refugees online twice a week in the summer of 2022 on a voluntary basis.
Until funding and resources are found for more extensive assistance.

The individual and effective method of such online learning yielded worthy results in the students' knowledge progression. This provided Elizabeth and Blair with even greater motivation to create a substantial language assistance project for refugees. The number of eager learners was increasing; back then we had 50+ applications from highly motivated Ukrainians willing to learn English online!

 

In December 2022, Elizabeth organized a fair for Ukrainian refugee creators, and Russell Apfel, the leader of the local non-profit organization AJPR, attended upon her invitation through social media as a sign of support for the Ukrainian refugee community. Elizabeth briefed him about the language project she and Blair had been working on all this time, seeking funding. She asked for support for this project, and he agreed to help raise funds through his organization.

This marked the second significant breakthrough towards achieving the goal!
Funds for the program were collected through donations from the residents of Austin via the non-profit organization AJPR.
 

Once the necessary amount to cover teacher salaries, administrative, and technical expenses was accumulated, the program officially started operating under the name LAURA (Language Assistance for Ukrainian Refugees in America) in the spring of 2023.

 

Video Testimonials from our students click to view
Video Testimonials from the teachers of the LAURA program

Currently, we have completed 3 full semesters of study under the LAURA program. There are 43 students - our project graduates who have found jobs or transitioned to higher-paying positions, thanks to improved English communication.

Currently, we have 8 groups of students, totaling 80 participants (distributed into student groups), and 250+ applicants wish to join the program to learn English!
 

Right now The LAURA program is at a critical development point! With high demand for education and a team of qualified teachers, the LAURA program is currently on hold due to insufficient funding!

Our project needs your support to help even more Ukrainians quickly learn the English language and become self-sufficient in new country.Please support this critically important program with a donation. Thank you for helping Ukrainians adapt to American society.

Attention! We do NOT charge students for this course. For all Ukrainian refugee students this course is free

 

If you are a Ukrainian refugee who has recently arrived in America and would like to study under our LAURA English Assistance Program please complete the request form. We will contact you shortly and discuss the details of the training

Take a look at the program's current activities:

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partners who helped us with the LAURA program:

Austin Jews & Partners ​ ​for Refugees
HOFT Institute
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