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Ukrainian refugees adjusting to life in western Washington

Approximately 16,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Washington state since the war began one year ago.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. — As she looks at a cell phone video clip of her home in Ukraine, Olesiia Tanasiichuk feels very far from home.

The video shows lots of land, two buildings and a gate to keep the horses in.

"Yes, I miss it," she said through an interpreter.

A Lynnwood apartment is home now for her, her mother and two daughters.

"As time goes by I get more adapted to America's culture," Tanasiichuk said.

The family arrived in Washington last April as Russian bombs rained down on their hometown.

They were taken in by a Snohomish family who let them stay in their guest house for six months while they found housing.

Once the apartment was secured, church members donated furniture.

The girls have enrolled in school, one in fourth grade, her sister in ninth. They use computers to translate their lessons and are doing well.

Many of their meals have come from a food bank, but Tanasiichuk now has a job prepping food in Everett. She's even gotten her driver's license and bought a little car.

Things are stable.

However, her two sons remain in Ukraine -- unable to leave as the Russian assault continues.

"They haven't been taken in the army yet but a lot of their friends have been drafted," Tanasiichuk said. "A lot of my friends' husbands have been, as well. I'm really worried because one of my friend's sons was drafted and he didn't make it back."

Nearly 16,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Washington since the war began one year ago. The one-year mark falls this week.

Snohomish County has the second largest population of Ukrainian refugees, next to King County.

"America is perfect for Ukrainians," Tanasiichuk said, "because we are hard-working and we can make it here." 

The most difficult part of the transition is the language barrier. Tanasiichuk's mother, Alla, is teaching herself English.

She shows off her stack of textbooks, as well as some of the phrases she has learned.

"I love you. God bless you. You are very nice," she said.

With a sizeable Ukrainian population in Snohomish County, the family has been able to find food native to their homeland. Ukrainian treats are spread out over a small table, offering a sweet reminder of the way life used to be.

A life that may be gone forever.

"I would like to go back and visit my family and friends but it's better for my kids to stay here and grow and get an education," said Tanasiichuk. "America is a country of wonders."

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