Ukrainian ELL Student's Art Gets Spotlight

Ukrainian ELL Student's Art Gets Spotlight

Irina Visnevcaia's artwork is being included in San Diego exhibit

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

When Irina Visnevcaia came from Odesa, Ukraine, to Appleton a year ago to visit her daughter she could not have predicted she’d still be living here today. And, that she’d be enrolled as a student at Fox Valley Technical College.

In early 2022, as Irina was trying to return home to her husband and relatives, war broke out between Russia and Ukraine. Irina’s travel plans were postponed and rebooked several times and then ultimately canceled when flights to Ukraine were halted.

Since then, Irina has been living with her daughter Anastasia, who is a graduate of Fox Valley Technical College. As she waits for the right time to return home, Irina is focusing her energy on two things: English and art.

This past fall, Irina enrolled in English Language Learning (ELL) classes at Fox Valley Tech and has recently started her second semester of classes. She took four years of English in high school and an additional four in college, but credits the ELL program at FVTC for helping her the most.

“The existence of this program to refugees, to people like me at no cost, is amazing,” Irina says.

In addition to her studies, Irina is also an accomplished artist and paints stories of the war on vintage kilims which are flat tapestry-woven textiles of Turkish origin. She and her daughter are soon leaving for San Diego where 24 pieces of Irina’s art will be displayed as part of the Heart and Soul of Ukraine exhibition in San Diego, California.

Before leaving for the art installation, Irina shared her story with local journalists: