YORK, England — Pints in hand, a group of men sat hunched over chessboards under the sloping ceiling beams of the Eagle and Child pub in York, in northern England.
Among them sat Maksym Kryshtafor, an 8-year-old Ukrainian boy with freckles and an impish smile, who navigated his pieces across the board with intense focus.
The group had moved its weekly meeting to an earlier time to accommodate its young guest’s bedtime, and he was soon impressing these chess aficionados with decades more experience.
the United Nations, each facing the challenges of a life ripped apart by war: a strange land, an unfamiliar language and tenuous ties to support systems like education and health care — if they have any ties all. Finding a pursuit that provides focus and stability can help exiles navigate the anxieties and upheaval of restarting life far from home.
For Maksym, it was chess.
a program that allowed British families to host Ukrainians fleeing the war for six months. So far, despite procedural difficulties, more than 65,000 people have headed to Britain from Ukraine under the program.
Maksym has been enrolled in school, where he is beginning to make friends and is enjoying math, Ms. Kryshtafor said, because even without a strong grasp of English, he can understand it.
Even with hospitable hosts like the Townsends and the security of life far from war, Ms. Kryshtafor said she had found it difficult to adjust to humbling circumstances. She had spent most of her life in Odesa, and despite having two college degrees and a career as a journalist, she is now working as a hotel cleaner.