First Lady Jill Biden on Saturday met with Ukrainian mothers and students Saturday at a school in the Romanian capital, hearing stories about they fled the war in Ukraine that at times appeared to leave her on the verge of tears.
„You are just incredible women!” she told them. „It’s amazing the Romanian people have taken you into their homes and hearts and that has made all the difference for you.”
„The Romanian people are heroes.”
Mrs Biden and Carmen Iohannis, the first lady of Romania, visited classrooms and chatted with Romanian and Ukrainian students as they worked on art project.
Jill Biden was handed a bouquet of white peonies while Mrs Iohannis received a multi-colored bouquet. Both women wore floral-print dresses.
„We are very grateful you initiated this …. event today. I’m very grateful you took the time and effort and visited us. We have always loved the Americans and we feel safer if we know they back us up, ” Mrs Iohannis said.
„Thank you for coming and giving us hope and the feeling we can rely on you,” she added.
The meeting was at times emotional. Ukrainian women recalled the horrors and traumas of the 2 ½ month war and their harrowing journeys out of the country.
The American first lady often appeared close to tears listening to the stories. „You are amazingly strong and resilient,” she told them.
“I crossed the border with my 3-year-old son, and everything I was thinking about was how to save my child from a city that was bombed,” Anastasia Konovalvoa, a Ukrainian teacher who fled to Romania in March, told Mrs Biden, the Washington Post reported.
“Thank God the Romanian people were here. I think even the Romanians didn’t expect that they could be so wonderful, because you don’t expect that from people.”
Students then performed for the first ladies, singing the Romanian national anthem and then a Ukrainian military marching song.
Both ladies are teachers and have kept their careers while their husbands serve as head of state. Mrs Iohannis gave the first lady a warm welcome earlier Saturday, hugging her as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis looked on smiling. Mrs Biden held the Romanian first lady’s hand during the meeting.
Mrs Iohannis is an English professor in the Iohannis’ home town of Sibiu, in central Romania.
More than 850,000 Ukrainians have entered Romania since the invasion, with most traveling on to other countries. Nearly 400,000 have crossed into Slovakia, according to government figures from those countries.
Mrs Biden is using four days in Europe to highlight issues she promotes at home, including support for U.S. service members, education and child welfare.
On Sunday— Mother’s Day— the first lady will meet displaced Ukrainians who sought refuge across the border in Slovakia.