Chicagoan Is One of Thousands Who Crossed Over Polish Border to Take Refuge: ‘I Feel So Welcome Here'

Olga Tsoi, a Ukrainian-American from Chicago, recounts her journey into Poland as millions of refugees flee their home country looking for safety in other European countries

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is about to enter its second week, and with no end in sight, thousands of Ukrainians continue to cross the border into surrounding countries to take refuge.

Olga Tsoi, a Ukrainian-American from Chicago, is one of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who has crossed over into Poland after a long and tiring 72-hour journey.

Tsoi said she has been touched by the incredibly generous spirit the Polish people have had with her, her mom and the thousands of Ukrainians who have made it there.

"Once we arrived we've been treated with absolute respect and people are helping out non-stop, it's so crazy to see," said Tsoi. "I feel so welcome here and everybody has been extremely nice and helpful. People want to hear your story and help you as much as they can."

The journey has not been easy for Tsoi, who is currently staying at a hotel in Krakow, Poland but whose family remains in her hometown of Kherson, Ukraine.

Tsoi says she feels extremely lucky to have been able to come into Poland, and that the private bus that she in was "one of the first ones to cross the border." But for many, that has not been the case.

Through her social media Tsoi shared how people were crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border. Many were stuck waiting hours in a line of buses and cars but many others also walked there. A treacherous journey that was the last resort for thousands of Ukrainians who had no choice but to flee their war torn country.

"The experiences are so different...I think it also depends on where you're crossing, if you're on foot or if you're on a bus or if you're in a car. There are just so many variables..." said Tsoi.

According to reports, the number of Ukrainians who have fled Russia's war on their country has surpassed 1 million as of Thursday and is rising hourly.

Tsoi said there are many ways people can get involved and help support refugees. She invited people to go to her Instagram page, @echo_mass, to find out more information on how to help or donate to local organizations and people in Ukraine.

Tsoi talked about how incredibly strong and resilient Ukrainians have been and continue to be. For her, everything that is taking place in her home country couldn't end soon enough.

She said that the suffering has gone on much too long but remains hopeful for a brighter future ahead and that her tears from now on will be ones of joy and not sorrow.

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