CIS Abroad Student Stories: Humanitarian Efforts for Ukraine

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth Gatzulis and Anne-Claire Quindoza from the University of South Carolina to see how their spring semester has been going. In between classes and travels throughout Europe, they’ve been spending time volunteering, along with our site director, at a local non-profit that’s providing aid to refugees from Ukraine.

They're both studying International Business and Finance at The Prague University of Economics & Business on our Semester in Prague program.

Life in Prague, Czech Republic

We asked Anne-Claire and Elizabeth to tell us a bit more about their experience in Prague and their travels to other European countries this semester. 

It’s been amazing…I was a little nervous to study abroad even though I go to a school that’s pretty far away from my hometown. I’ve never been to Europe before, but so far it’s been amazing. I tell all my friends and family just how great it’s been and how I feel like I’ve adjusted to the European lifestyle pretty fast.

Elizabeth Gatzulis

As they’ve traveled throughout Europe, they’ve seen an outpour of support for Ukrainian refugees throughout the cities. 

We see Ukrainian flags, peaceful protests, walks, and concerts. It’s a really different outlook on war than what we might see in the United States.

Anne-Claire Qunidoza

Raising money, volunteering, and unimaginable ways of giving back

CIS Abroad’s Site Director in Prague, Leah Takata, sent out a group text to our students onsite asking if any of them would be interested in volunteering to help those in need in the Ukraine. Without hesitation, Elizabeth, Anne-Claire, and Emma Scheessele (another University of South Carolina student who was unable to meet with us) agreed to help. 

I told my family and you know, I wanted to use my own money but then my parents were also like, yeah we want to help, we’ll send you money too.

Elizabeth Gatzulis

The donations didn’t stop there. Members from Elizabeth and Anne-Claire’s sorority, Tri-Delta, have been continuing to donate money over the weeks. They raised $150 in the first 3 days and are still receiving donations. 

With the money from the sisters of Tri-Delta, they were able to purchase non-perishable goods for soldiers in western Ukraine.


Emma and Elizabeth sorting through donations at Falkon


Volunteering with Falkon, a local NGO

Together with Leah, Anne-Claire, Elizabeth and Emma have been volunteering at Falkon, a small NGO in Prague. They've been sorting through donations, loading trucks, and purchasing other goods that are needed for the Refugees.


The toiletries, diapers, and other donations that they group were able to purchase with donations


In addition to sorting donations, Anne-Claire was tasked with was something she mentioned she’d never thought she’d be doing. She and a few others cut up dark colored fabric and hand weaved it into fish netting. This net will be used as Camouflage for Ukrainian soldiers.

And then we were, I don’t know how to describe it, weaving fabric into nets. We were cutting the fabric and weaving it into a fishing net to make it look like camouflage. These nets are going to the Ukraine this weekend to cover the jeeps, and all the Ukrainian soldiers belongings. Something physical that I’m touching is going there and it’s going to help them.

Anne-Claire Quindoza


Anne Claire and Prague Site Director, Leah cutting fabric for the camouflage



Volunteers at Falkon in front of their handmade camouflage


Their advice for future study abroad students

To sum up the conversation, I asked them what their advice would be for students who are considering studying abroad in Prague. Here’s what they had to say.




Click here for more information on Falkon & their recent humanitarian efforts.


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