GREENSBORO, N.C. — University of North Carolina Greensboro professor Dr. Vas Taras has created a pen pal program to connect children in Ukraine with people in the United States.
The international business professor was originally born in Ukraine but has spent the last 20 years between the U.S. and Canada.
"All of a sudden when (it's) your friends and family and streets that you know of being bombed it’s a whole different (situation), like all of a sudden it’s much more overwhelming," said Taras, whose parents still live in Ukraine.
Taras said with kids in bomb shelters and out of school, his friends reached out to him asking if there was something he could do to keep them engaged. Tara put a post on Facebook asking for pen pals and got hundreds of responses.
"I thought it would literally be five friends of mine from Ukraine and maybe a few kids from the United States," Taras said. "Literally (the) next day we (woke) up (with) a few hundred applications."
Taras is no stranger to international relations. In 2010, he created the X-Culture project, an organization that connects thousands of students from around the world to help actual businesses reach their goals.
"It's essentially learning international business by doing international business," said Taras.
His X-Culture connections have helped created the pen pal program.
"We have participants in literally over 100 countries over the years in any given semester that’s dozens and dozens and so we can reach and assemble people so that’s like a big advantage," Taras said.
Some of his former X-Culture participants are helping him run the pen pal program and have even suggested expanding it to other countries.