Oleksandra Balaba is playing tennis at Louisiana-Monroe while her family is in Ukraine

When tension between Russia and Ukraine thickened, Oleksandra Balaba immediately reached out to lawyer friends – exploring the possibilities of bringing her loved ones to the United States if circumstances escalated.

Now she spends all hours of the day glued to her phone waiting for an update from her younger sister or parents.

“She’s texting me pretty much everyday asking ‘when are you going to take me from here” Balaba said. “I feel awful because there’s no such answer for that right now.”

Balaba came from Ukraine to play tennis at Louisiana-Monroe. The sophomore left for the spring semester with the expectation of being able to see her family in a month’s time. Now that’s uncertain.

Ukrainian ULM tennis player Oleksandra Balaba wrote the words

More:How parents and guardians can talk with children about scary topics like the war in Ukraine

One day as she walked back to her room she got a text message from her sister asking if she could talk. Immediately Balaba knew something was wrong because it was too early in the day for Ukraine. Her sister attempted to play it off by saying she wanted to check in on her but Balaba went to social media to get a real answer – Russia had invaded Ukraine.

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