English Speaking Club – A collaboration with Kherson State University, Ukraine

By Hayley Snoding, International Project Officer, Global and Lifelong Learning

Kherson State University and the University of Kent have been collaborating since June 2022 as part of the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative. During that time we have provided support through the donation of IT and technical equipment, delivery of English classes, guest lectures and supporting the KSU online English Speaking Club and current affairs discussions.

My experience of being a part of English Club

I have been with Global and Lifelong Learning for 8 months now and one of my first projects was getting involved in our English Speaking Club with Kherson State University. I have to say I was a little apprehensive at first, who wouldn’t be? What did I know about being displaced, facing war, having to move away from family and friends, staying positive when facing such uncertainty.

What I found was inspiration and resilience from the Ukrainian students, opportunities to learn about Ukrainian culture and traditions, and even things I never knew about British history and traditions (Google has been my best friend on occasions).

I now look forward to our weekly sessions, which range from talking about books, films and fashion trends to world health, managing your finances and the path to academic success.

What the students say about English Club

I asked some of the students from Kherson State University what English Club means to them:

Maria, “I love it, I joined in 2021, before the war and during. It became quite significant as we are in different cities and locations. It is great to be whole again and not worrying about isolation. English speaking club has interesting themes and it is good to think about something pleasant and practice English. My favourite thing is it makes us a community.”

Alla, “I enjoy the intellectual exchange, discussion of interesting topics and hearing different opinions. Telling stories and jokes is a good way to unite with each other.”

Dimitro, “Very interesting conversation and good to hear from a native speaker.”

Serhii, “I love the ideas and being together. Joining makes learning and education pleasant.”

The English Speaking Club is led by Olena Stavenko, English Language Teacher at Kherson State University. Olena is always upbeat and makes every session fun and interactive. We start with an ice breaker question to get warmed up and then jump right into the topic. In the last year we have had contributions from one of Kent’s own Degree Apprentices and some of our Student Global Officers, who can offer their own insights into studying in the UK and how things differ in their own cultures.

Tuesday 28th May was our last session for this academic year as there will be a break over the summer while the Ukrainian students take their exams. I wish them all every success in their exams. But there will be an opportunity for me to meet some of them when they visit us next month. It will be wonderful to meet some of them in person.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in taking part in one of our English Speaking Club sessions in the next academic year, and joining in the discussions, please get in touch. It is a wonderful way of broadening your own development and understanding of cultural awareness.

Email: H.Snoding@kent.ac.uk to find out more.

Further information

Global and Lifelong Learning will be hosting a networking event with staff and students from Kherson State University on Monday 17th June, 11:00-13:00. If you would like to join us, please complete the online form: https://forms.office.com/e/cTtZTkwEp6

You can also find out more about our collaboration with Kherson State University from the links below:

Twinning Voices – KSU & Kent – YouTube

Kent and Kherson State (Ukraine) universities sign historic twinning agreement

“Art Against War” Exhibition at Kent: An exhibition of art by students and graduates from Ukraine’s Kherson State University (KSU)

One of our English Speaking Club sessions held on zoom.
We start each session with an ice-breaker like this one.