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Egg decorating brings Ukrainian students out of their shells at Council Rock South


Some Ukranian refugees and fellow students at Council Rock High School South in Northampton have gotten to know each other a little better through the Ukranian Easter egg decorating technique of Pysanky.

Under the guidance of teacher Gerald Fetter and other staff members, the students gathered in the CR South cafeteria on a recent afternoon to view a slide show and decorate eggs using the technique. Anastasia Chystukh presented the slide show, and she and some other South students who fled Ukraine because of the Russian invasion decorated their own eggs while also checking table to table to see if others needed help.

Fetter estimated there are 30 to 35 Ukranian refugees currently attending CR South.

“With everything that’s going on in Ukraine, we have a large influx of Ukranian students that have come to the building,” he said. “Being that they are new to the area, new to the community and new to the school, we thought it would be nice to do an event where they could teach the other students things and feel more a part of the community,”

Fetter said he learned Pysanky in high school from a woman who owned an egg shop on the street where he lived. He prepared for the exercise at CR South a day or two in advance by blowing the yokes out of many eggs to hollow them out in preparation for the decorating.

The technique involves coating the eggs in beeswax, writing pencil lines in various designs, drawing over the lines with a heated instrument called a kistka and then dipping the eggs in various colored dyes to finish off the process.

Chystukh, who left Ukraine with her mother seven months ago while her father remained, said Pysanky was one of several Ukranian traditions she learned while attending school in that country. The CR South junior added she enjoyed helping to teach fellow students the technique.

“It’s really interesting to share with people Ukranian cultures because we have so many interesting things to share,” Chystukh said. “Now, they can try to do this with their families at home.

“People are really kind here. I can share with them what happened in my country, and they can support me. I can share my Ukranian culture and traditions and the American people can share with me what they usually do and how they celebrate different things. It’s a really good experience.”

Council Rock South senior Maddy Dorf said she felt closer to the Ukranian students as a result of the shared Pysanky exercise.

“I loved it,” she said. “It was a really cool experience. It’s something I’ve never done before. I feel like we haven’t had a chance to include them in some of our things at this school, so it’s nice to be able to experience some of their things from home too.”

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