Ukrainian woman finds support from local community - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Ukrainian woman finds support from local community

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It's been nearly three months since Russian forces entered eastern Ukraine capturing the peninsula of Crimea. 

Natalie Keller, a native of western Ukraine says it's difficult to watch her country keep its borders secure.

"The Ukrainian military people are trying to protect the borders but its very tough in those cities right next to the border," Keller says. "It's unstable and you know simple families are suffering. It's scary there."

Keller moved to Nebraska two years ago by herself. She says she started taking classes at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff before becoming an advising assistant.

She says she doesn't know when the violence will end in eastern Ukraine but she is finding support from her husband and friends at WNCC.

"Almost every day I come to work and my colleagues ask me how is your family, is everything okay and I say yes, my parents is safe. It's difficult to explain the situation," she said.

Keller says the annexation of Crimea was an unexpected event and she worries about a close family-friend who participated in protecting the eastern borders.

"When the shootings were happening it was terrifying. I was waking up and going to bed with the phone in my hand checking on the news trying to stay sane," she recalled.

Keller says she knows some pro-Russian separatists who are fighting against their own government. She says she's upset with the political chess game of border control which is affecting the innocent but hopes her country's newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko, finds a resolution soon. 

"The new president has the power to do certain things right now. I just hope he's going to choose the right way. I know a lot of families in Ukraine that have relatives in Russia and they are not talking anymore because of the situation; they don't understand. We want to help you Russians say, but we don't need your help Ukrainians respond," Keller said.

She says the conflict is deeper than what people see on television.

"I'm just so sad because of these bad events people will learn about my country but I really appreciate their support," she smiled.

During June, Keller is teaching a Russian summer class to students on WNCC's Scottsbluff campus.

In July, she plans to move to Ohio with her husband, Kyle, to work on her masters in higher education at Ohio University.

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