Local military families, Ukrainian families have cultural exchange

Local military families, Ukrainian families have cultural exchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The USO and Rotary Club of Jacksonville hosted a cultural exchange day for local military families and Ukrainian refugee families at the Jacksonville Zoo Tuesday. This trip was more than just a kind gesture to the Yastrebov family.

“It’s like a dream fairytale — they just can’t. It’s impossible, something like wow,” Genaey Yastrebov said.

The Yastrebovs just moved to Jacksonville and do not speak English. News4JAX used a translator to communicate with them.

The family said back in Ukraine, they were forced to live underground to escape bombs and gun shots.

But, this is the beginning of a new life.

Ukrainian refugees and US Military families at Jacksonville Zoo

“Before, they did not want to live,” Yastrebov said. “Now, they feel born again. Now it makes sense to live.”

Starting over in a new place isn’t easy, it’s something American military families know firsthand. Thanks to the USO and Rotary Club of Jacksonville, military families and Ukrainian refugee families had a chance to connect at the Zoo.

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“It’s hard but it’s also good to know that they’re not alone and we’re not alone as well,” Kaylee Ream said.

Alex Rodriguez, a family member of the US military, told News4JAX that he will work to be a best friend to one of the refugee families now living in Jacksonville.

Ukrainian refugees and US Military families at zoo

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