Interview With an American Who Evacuated Kyiv


Neil and Carol Frerichs have been Kelly Letter subscribers since 2008. When Russia invaded Ukraine, I learned that their son, Kurt, was in Kyiv at the time and then evacuated to Poland. To get Kurt’s perspective, I spoke with him on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. This is our conversation.

(0:40) Things are fine in Warsaw.

(1:25) Kurt was in Kyiv to teach English, and study Russian and Ukrainian.

(2:43) Eastern Ukrainians are also patriotic toward Ukraine. They don’t want to join Russia.

(7:23) Life before the invasion was normal. None of Kurt’s Ukrainian friends expected Russia to invade.

(10:38) Kurt did not make preparations to evacuate because people said Russia was just flexing its muscles; and even if it did attack, the fighting would stay in the east.

(12:35) It wasn’t hard to leave. He packed one bag and got on a bus to Poland, but the trip took 24 hours.

(13:45) Poland is packed with Ukrainians. In Warsaw, Kurt hears more Russian and Ukrainian than Polish.

(16:46) Polish people expect the war to drag on a long time, but Ukrainians are optimistic they’ll return home shortly.

(18:16) Many Ukrainians just want the violence to stop. They’ve been sick of it since 2014.

(19:10) Kurt is helping Ukrainians by translating phone calls to connect them to housing, transportation, and medical support.

(23:05) People in Poland are proud of the help they’re providing Ukrainians. It’s made them proud to be Polish.

(24:54) Kurt started a GoFundMe page to pay for his trips to the border to provide more help. It’s at

NOTE: After I stopped recording, Kurt told me that his Ukrainian friends in Russia say their Mastercards and Visas still work normally for domestic transactions, confirming a report in The Guardian.


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One Comment

  1. Tamar Frankiel
    Posted March 20, 2022 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s astonishing what Poland is doing! and the other border countries too. It’s like the whole city of Chicago picking up their overnight suitcases and leaving, in 3 weeks. Poland has accepted ten times as many people in those three weeks than we accepted from Mexico in a whole year. Can you imagine how Americans would react? (Poland is about 1/10 the population of USA.)

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