On March 14 2022, Twitter user @BenPhillips76 shared a purported video of Ukrainian refugee children on their first day of school in Naples, Italy:
Ukrainian refugee kids arrive in Italy, and start at local schools. On their first day they enter nervously. You won’t believe what the Italian kids did next … pic.twitter.com/XQ1z2gkezb
— Ben Phillips (@benphillips76) March 14, 2022
Phillips captioned the video:
Ukrainian refugee kids arrive in Italy, and start at local schools. On their first day they enter nervously. You won’t believe what the Italian kids did next …
In the clip, two children (a boy and a girl) can be seen nervously standing back from a doorway. After a moment, the children walked through the doors to a crowded atrium, where gathered children and teachers applauded and cheered them.
Originally, the clip was shared by user @CHUDOUO on March 13 2022. A caption automatically translated from Ukrainian to English by Twitter read:
Meeting of Ukrainian children at the Italian school
A brief search for any additional information about the clip turned up video-only versions hastily published on March 14 2022. A video post was shared to Reddit’s r/interestingasfuck on March 14 2022:
Commenters immediately began debating whether the gesture was overwhelming to children who had purportedly been uprooted and moved to a new country and a new school in March 2022. As part of that discussion, somebody shared a link to a paywalled La Repubblica article published on March 11 2022.
A translated version of the piece was titled “School party for Ukrainian children who fled the war, Dimitri and Victoria welcomed by over 200 students in the Don Milani institute in Pomigliano d’Arco for the first day.” It began:
Dimitri and Victoria are 8 and 10 years old, brother and sister fleeing the war in Ukraine try to overcome the horror and fear of what they saw and left behind. The other morning [in March 2022] they found themselves, backpacks on their shoulders and hats on their heads, at the entrance of the Don Milani school in Pomigliano d’Arco, greeted by the applause of joy and the yellow-blue flags of over 200 young students. Two wings of students who made a stadium choir for their new friends: in the hall a human chain on two floors escorted the classmates from Lviv to the classroom.
La Repubblica mentioned the involvement of the children’s grandmother, identified only as “Dana,” as a longtime resident of Naples and a link between the children and their new school via a math teacher friend. The piece concluded with apparent commentary from the children’s mother:
Dimitri and Victoria arrived in Naples with the first buses from Ukraine, being in the classroom in contact with their peers allowed them to regain strength and joy to ward off anguish. “We are grateful for this welcome – the mother Tatiana is moved – the children were very happy on their return from school”. The hope is to be able to return home as soon as possible.
Separate reporting indicated that Ukrainian refugees began arriving in Italy in March 2022. Additional news about a March 13 2022 bus crash involving refugees traveling from Ukraine to Italy included information about the number of Ukrainians who entered Italy since the invasion of Ukraine started in late February 2022:
Around 35,000 Ukrainians refugees who fled after Russia launched war in their homeland have entered Italy, most of them through its northeastern border with Slovenia.
A March 13 2022 Twitter video purportedly showed a clip of young children from Ukraine receiving a warm welcome from their new classmates in Italy, but little information was available on social media. On March 11 2022, Italian news outlet La Repubblica reported that students in Naples greeted the two children — 8-year-old Victoria and 10-year old Dmitri. In that reporting, the children’s mother said they were “very happy” after school, but hoped to return to Ukraine as soon as possible.