War and Refuge: The Inspiring Journey of Ukrainian Refugee Students Finding Hope and Home at Weimar Academy

As the war in Ukraine erupted, two young individuals embarked on a journey to seek refuge far from the turmoil that tore through their homeland. Their path, marked by adversity and upheaval, led them to the welcoming embrace of Weimar Academy, where, amidst displacement, they discovered a new home.

The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine began in 2014. Between September 2014 and February 2015, Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany signed several iterations of the Minsk Agreements, which should have eventually stopped the forward movement of troops and reduced fighting significantly. Unfortunately, the agreements were never implemented, and on February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine on several fronts, beginning a major invasion. The fighting transformed into a trench war, with roughly 75,000 troops facing off along a 420-km-long front line cutting through densely populated areas. The war ruined the area’s economy, forced millions to relocate, and turned the conflict zone into one of the world’s most mine-contaminated areas.

The Ostapenko Family

Anna Ostapenko and her family were prepared. Sensing that the conflict would escalate any day, with documents in hand, the family was packed. They had plans to escape to Romania via Moldova. After hearing missiles flying over her home on Thursday morning, Mrs. Ostapenko gathered her family and said, “We’re getting out of here.” Anna commented, “The day before was just a normal day.” They left their life and health ministry behind in Vinnytsia and headed for the border. Only a few hours after crossing, martial law was declared, which could have resulted in forcing her father to engage Russia as a member of the Ukrainian forces or her mother, a medical doctor, to stay and serve in the military one day. God had been preparing them for this moment. “We could see God working in so many ways,” said Anna, “Just about a month before we got a new car. If we had our old car, we would not have been able to make it.” She goes on to say, “I didn’t see anyone dying or damage happening, but when we arrived in Romania, we read the news and started to realize what was really happening.”

During the initial outbreak of the war, the health center that the Ostapenko family had such an integral part of raising was transformed into a place of refuge. Located in a rural area, it provided shelter and safety for those traveling to escape the country. Over the first several weeks, the health center welcomed over a hundred Ukrainians, and Anna’s dad helped by raising funds to continue this ministry. Now, it is transformed into a rehabilitation center where they can help Ukrainian soldiers and casualties recover from injuries as a result of the war.

Regardless of whether the war broke out or not, having been accepted in January 2022, Anna was headed to Weimar Academy. Years back, Dr. Neil Nedley, President of Weimar University, was visiting Anna’s family in Ukraine. He was there to work with the health center that her family had helped establish. Dr. Nedley invited her to study at Weimar Academy when she was only twelve years old, and she put the idea on the back burner. Now, instead of studying abroad alone, her family has joined her in the nearby state of Washington, where Anna’s mother, a former medical doctor in Ukraine, is studying to get her license in physical therapy to continue ministering to both the physical and spiritual needs of others.

Although adjusting to the American culture and studying in English was initially challenging for Anna, she now considers Weimar Academy her home. Anna explains, “I’m very grateful for an opportunity to live under a peaceful sky, free from constant fear for my life. Weimar Academy is not only my physical home; it is so much more. I grew a lot while studying here, physically, spiritually, and mentally. It is due to the people surrounding me who have become my family. Many students took the first step to making friends with me and accepted me into their families. They help and support me in every situation, and the teachers are always willing to go the extra mile to explain things. By their example, they motivate me to push forward and become better in every aspect. Many of them made time for me in their busy schedules and were there for me when I needed it the most. People here showed an example of true, selfless Christianity. Each of them has a very special place in my heart; I only wish to repay them for all their Christ-like love and patience toward me. I aim to show the same kindness, care, and support I receive from my Weimar family to everyone around me.”

The Ihnatiuk Family

David Ihnatiuk had a similar experience, yet with a unique journey. On the first day of the Russian invasion, David recounted waking up at 5 in the morning to the sound of bombs hitting the airport near his hometown of Odessa. Quickly packing their things, David’s family, including his two sisters, were on the road heading to a friend’s house, only to find upon arrival that their friends had already left. The Ihnatiuk’s fled to Romania. Though they had no friends there, no place to stay, and just enough funds for their trip to America, God provided for them miraculously through a stranger named Vladamir. Vladimir approached the family and graciously offered them food and shelter for a month until they flew to Mexico.

The Ihnatiuk family planned to enter the United States through Mexico, where Ukrainians were granted access. Two hours before their flight to Los Angeles, they found themselves in a prison cell because of forgotten documentation. They were told they would have to stay for one day until the Mexican government could figure out what to do with the missing documents. The moment they entered the cell, with only two hours until their flight, they started praying. Miraculously, only 15 minutes later, the problems were solved, and they were released and on their way to America.

Their initial transition was tough. Father spoke some English, but all David knew how to say was, “Hello, how are you?” Fortunately, they found a supportive Slavic SDA church community that helped Mr. Ihnatiuk to find a job. After moving to Sacramento, they received what David described as “a random phone call” from a man who suggested David attend Weimar Academy. Due to a generous donor, David could attend and now considers Weimar Academy his home. “I like the nature and the friends I have found here. Weimar is a place that makes you think about God and brings you closer to Him.” When asked if he would return after the Christmas break, David said, “If God provides the tuition.”

Mrs. Laura Krum, the Academy principal, states, “Last year, the sponsor who sent David here could not pay his bill, and he thought he wouldn’t be able to return. God provided through two generous donations over the summer, and he is very happy to be back.” Mrs. Krum adds, “I believe God has a purpose for David at Weimar Academy and that we can minister to him by God’s grace. And since God worked it out for his past bill to be paid so he can return, I believe David is supposed to be here, but he still needs financial assistance.”

God’s Providential Leading

Anna and David’s arrival at Weimar Academy was not a coincidence but a testament to God’s care and providential leading. As the two navigated the complexities of a new language, culture, and environment, they found the warmth of friendship in their newfound Weimar Academy family.

David and Anna’s presence among us is a testament to the divine orchestration that continues to unfold within the grounds of this institution. Their stories remind us of the importance of extending a helping hand and providing for those in need. Mrs. Krum says, “Anna and David have become integral parts of our Weimar family. Together, as a community, we stand ready to embrace them, learn from them, and continue supporting them.”

If you have been touched by the stories of Anna and David and would like to support them in finishing their studies at Weimar Academy, please contact Laura Krum.

Laura Krum
(828) 974-1498
[email protected]

Lifespan Development (3 Credits)

From conception to old age, this course explores focuses on the biological, psychological, and social developmental issues and milestones for each stage of the lifespan, paying particular attention to the aspects of context, culture, and environmental issues. Topics include, but are not limited to: parenting style (child guidance), social contexts, social stress, poverty, low educational attainment, abuse and neglect, gender and family issues salient to relationships, separation, nontraditional and blended families and inadequate housing and how these affect development. Issues of aging and long-term care are included.

Moral Identity and Faith as a Counselor (3 Credits)

This course explores the formation of the student therapist’s identity as a counselor within the framework of Christianity and how this plays out in a secular world of counseling. This course presents philosophical and ethical perspectives integral to the understanding of the contemporary psychologies. Students learn how to analyze the ethical bias of psychotherapeutic psychologies, identify their underlying philosophical assumptions, and develop an appreciation for the moral components in individual, marital, and family identity formation. Also included will be a workshop to enhance spiritual development.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Basic Theories and Skills (3 Credits)

This course develops an understanding of the major theoretical orientations used by current practitioners, focusing on systemic approaches. Theories provide a coherent framework for understanding how people change. This course will highlight the Biblical understanding of how change takes place. This course covers the concepts and techniques associated with the primary theories of counseling psychology: psychodynamic, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and post-modern; in contrast with wholistic counseling techniques. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, limitations, and outcome research associated with each concept. The course also highlights cultural and spiritual diversity as it applies to the therapeutic process and awareness of the self, interpersonal issues, and spiritual values as they impact the use of theoretical frameworks. This course also introduces the student to basic skill in attending behavior, clinical interviewing and clinical intervention. Finally, this foundational course clarifies key issues in human nature and prepares the student for developing a worldview that is consistent with their theological and spiritual orientation.

Advanced Counseling Theory (3 Credits)

This course will examine several individuals, and family approaches for counseling. The development of specific behavioral, cognitive, humanistic/experiential, psychodynamic and systemic frameworks will be deconstructed. Student will distinguish Christian approach of addressing individual and family concerns. Students will be involved in experiential activities designed to relate the observation, demonstration and practice to research-based explanations. In this course, we will consider how each approach is used in clinical, school, and marriage and family counseling applications. Training in the use of the therapeutic relationship will be a focus for understanding and intervening with clients.

Group Processes in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of group counseling with children, adults, families, and couples. The course focuses on basic group counseling theory including therapeutic group factors, stages of group development, and principles of commonly accepted and research-based group interventions. The course will cover different types of groups, such as support, psycho-educational, and process groups; the tasks, skills, and qualities of effective group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups, group leaders; roles of group members; and legal and ethical issues pertaining to groups. Importance is placed on responsibilities and skills and cultural considerations. Emphasis on small and large group processes and involvement in experiential activities is designed to relate the clinical process to theoretical explanations. Throughout, there is an emphasis on group work within community mental health settings.

Child and Adolescent Counseling (3 Credits)

This course provides an understanding of the broad range of childhood and adolescent problems and maladjustment behaviors. A variety of psychotherapeutic modalities are presented, providing the student with an opportunity to develop knowledge of basic child and adolescent therapy skills, assessments, and treatment strategies. The impact of the development aspects, family dynamics, social environments, and multicultural issues are addressed. In addition, legal and ethical issues and the role of hospitalization are considered.

Addictions Counseling and Treatment (3 Credits)

This course covers the prevention, assessment, and treatment of substance abuse/dependence, behavioral addictions, and co-occurring conditions. Theories of etiology, populations at risk, and the role of persons and systems in supporting or compounding abuse/addiction are discussed. The course reviews the cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects of psychoactive drug use and the impact of addiction on the family system. Best practices for the screening, assessment, and treatment of addictions and co-occurring behaviors are covered as well as community resources for individuals and family members. Additional focus will be placed on developing understanding of Recovery Oriented Care, social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and cultural awareness and competencies.

Counseling Diverse Populations (3 Credits)

This course focuses on the intersection and convergence of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, religion, acculturation, and chronological age and how these inform effective mental health care. The goal is to increase awareness of multiple dimensions of diversity in order to prepare students to work sensitively and effectively with California’s multi-cultural population. Attention also is given to issues of privilege, marginality, and oppression, including sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism, and heterosexism. Theoretical perspectives on multicultural counseling will be examined as well as strategies for intervention and advocacy. This course will focus on eliminating biases, prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination. Throughout, effective strategies for communicating about emotionally charged material is emphasized.

Couples and Family Counseling: Post-Modern (3 Credits)

This course continues the study of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals, couples, and families using interactional and brief models. This course provides advanced training in the theories and techniques of modern and post-modern schools of family therapy including Cognitive Behavioral, Behavioral, Solution-Focused, and Narrative Therapy. Also included are the evidence-based treatments, outcome research, and limitations associated with each theory. Specific family issues addressed include: transition to parenthood, parenting young and school-age children, household division of labor, and blended families. Throughout, careful attention is paid to the historical and cultural context in which the theories were developed and the implications for working with diverse populations in recovery-oriented community mental health settings.

Christian Counseling and Psychotherapy: Advanced Techniques (3 Credits)

This course is designed to further develop the psychotherapeutic skills of students prior to their entry into a clinical placement. Students focus on developing proficiency in the core interviewing qualities, deriving goals for a clinical session, and in making contracts with clients for change. Additionally, students are encouraged to begin developing a theoretical and conceptual understanding of cases and trained to work with diverse populations. Students are also encouraged to address issues regarding the integration of their faith with the practice of psychotherapy.

Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (3 Credits)

This course examines the application of psychological instruments to the assessment of individuals, couples, and families. Fundamentals of psychological assessment are reviewed including standardized and non-standardized testing approaches, basic statistical concepts, and moral, ethical and cultural considerations in assessment. The course will also provide an overview of issues related to cognitive assessment, achievement, aptitude, and neuropsychological assessment. Emphasis will also be on clinical, behavioral, and personality assessment.

Knowing God Better Through Career Development: Theories and Techniques (3 Credits)

This course prepares students to address the intersections of career, values, and life roles in the context of career counseling and responding to career and work-related issues

for majority and marginalized groups. Students will gain core knowledge of major career development theories; examine the implications of sociocultural factors on career development, work transitions, and the career counseling process; gain experience with career counseling assessments and resources; and become familiar with current career development literature.

Crisis and Trauma Counseling (3 Credits)

Students will develop a foundation for assessing and treating post-trauma reactions in adults along with an overview of trauma responses in children. We will begin by reviewing the variety of trauma populations followed by in-depth instruction on the mechanism of development major trauma concerns. The assessment and intervention of post-trauma conditions will be identified. Next, we will address clinical interventions including disaster mental health and exposure-based treatment. Finally, we will review issues affecting therapists working with trauma populations and self-care strategies to prevent compassion fatigue.

Research and Evaluation in Counseling (3 Credits)

The goal of this course is to enable students to become informed consumers of psychological research and to use current research knowledge and tools to improve treatment outcomes. Students will explore methods and issues associated with the conduct and use of research concerning phenomena relevant to counseling psychology. The course provides an overview of hypothesis generation, research design, data collection and interpretation, and utilization of research findings in clinical practice, while considering systemic and sociocultural influences. Students will review seminal research findings including research on specific treatments and common factors across treatments that improve therapy outcome. The course also provides students with assessment tools for evaluating mental health programs and the effectiveness of one’s own clinical practice. Emphasis is given to helping students become knowledgeable consumers of research, including the use of research to inform evidence-based practice.

Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology (3 Credits)

Fulfills the California Board of Behavioral Sciences requirement for surveying the use of pharmacological agents in patient care. This course provides a basic overview of neurobiology in order to understand the biological bases of behavior and the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders. The course includes information about commonly prescribed psychiatric medications for children and adults – indications, contraindications, mechanisms of action, side effects, drug-drug interactions, iatrogenics, and variability related to age, gender, ethnicity, and medical condition. Students will learn how to work cooperatively and effectively with clients, family members, and prescribing clinicians. Additionally, controversies related to the medical model and to specific prescribing practices will be explored.

Psychopathology & Diagnostic Processes (3 Credits)

This course examines the major types of psychopathology. It explores techniques of intake interviewing and determining mental status to formulate a differential diagnosis based upon the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will also recognize and understand the controversial history of the development of the DSM. The

course also includes a critical examination of the clinical and experimental literature in psychopathy. Etiologies of cognitive/affective functions and dysfunctions and implications for therapeutic intervention are also addressed.

Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy (3 Credits)

This course will provide students with an understanding of human sexual development with a particular focus upon sexuality counseling from a systems perspective. The goal of this course is to learn about the many facets of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual dysfunctions in a safe and respectful environment. Topics include the physiology, psychology, and sociology of sexuality, including the effects of sexual attitudes and functioning on individuals and families. Gender Identity and LGBTQ and sexual perspectives will be reviewed. Clinical applications, including the treatment of sexual difficulty and dysfunction will also be explored. Students will develop familiarity with the language and terms of sexology and demonstrate an ability to apply this knowledge to clinical situations. Finally, students will explore the above with a framework of Christian compassion and love, exploring how God created sex to be beneficial. A review of AIDS, HIV, and STDs will be given.

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling (3 Credits)

This course introduces students to the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to the practice of LPCC and MFT in the state of California. This course focuses on contemporary professional law and ethics and moral dilemmas related to counseling practice. Students review statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws related to the scope of therapy practice, including confidentiality, privilege, reporting requirements, family law, and the treatment of minors. Professional codes of ethics (ACA, AAMFT/ CAMFT, and APA) will be reviewed. California law that is relevant to the practice of counseling will be examined including goals and objectives of professional organizations, standards of training, licensure, and the rights and responsibilities of professional counselors. Case examples will be discussed. Consideration is also given to the student practitioner’s values and behaviors, especially in relation to becoming a Christian therapist.

Practicum in Counseling (6, 3 per term)

The purpose of this course is to develop counseling competencies when working with a variety of clients with unique presenting concerns. Specifically, the focus will be on your ability to engage your clients in treatment, establish a working alliance, identify dysfunctional patterns, and use either general strategies or ECBIS strategies to facilitate change. You will work toward the development of a personally acceptable and professionally effective style of establishing and working in helping relationships. We will work toward helping you to examine your behaviors and rationales and to modify for greater effectiveness.

Course Prerequisites:
This is the terminal course for the program and will run concurrently with a weekly seminar that will address issues in counseling practice.