ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two Albuquerque teachers are spending part of their summer in Poland, teaching English students who fled Ukraine because of the war. Across the eight-hour time difference and spotty wifi, KRQE News 13 caught up with the two educators.

Irene Trujillo and Kat Riley are both APS teachers and members of the Albuquerque Teacher’s Federation. They are among 15 educators from the U.S. joining teachers from other countries to teach a summer camp for Polish and Ukrainian students. Some of their students spent their last school year fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“We were told there’s different alarm systems going on for the fire department. And some of our students from Ukraine became anxious from sirens and stuff, so, we had to have a whole talk at the beginning about how everyone’s safe here, we’re beyond the border, everything’s ok,” said Riley, an art teacher at Wilson Middle School.

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The educators are teaching English to the students ages 10 to 16, but have also been able to do fun activities with them like bee-keeping, kickboxing, and bonfires.

“Kids are kids wherever you go. I think that’s been really cool to see. Kids want to have fun in class, they want to learn,” said Trujillo, a first-grade teacher at Lavaland Elementary. “They just want to be loved and have fun.”

The educators said they will bring back knowledge from this experience to their Albuquerque students.

“I’ve learned a lot again from the different people working with us, so like, down to very basic things like classroom strategies and how different people around the world and around our country teach differently from us in New Mexico,” said Riley.

This, along with the lessons their Polish and Ukrainian students have taught them.

“I think it’s been important to students that people keep thinking about Ukraine and remember they’re civilians and to think about the people there,” said Trujillo.

The teachers say multiple organizations are involved in making the summer camp happen including NATAN and Folkowisko. They learned of the opportunity through their union, the Albuquerque Teacher’s Federation. Trujillo and Riley arrived in Poland earlier this month and will travel back to Albuquerque in the beginning of August.