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A letter from Poland: A Chicago native gives a Ukrainian woman shelter while war rages

Last updated March 14, 2022

By Tina Underwood

John Banka, a 1977 Furman University urban studies alumnus who works in Warsaw, has a front-row seat to the scene unfolding in Ukraine and the flood of refugees into Poland the Russia attack has spawned. In an opinion piece he wrote for the Chicago Tribune, he recounts a call his wife received from an old friend in Chicago who knew of a young woman from Odessa that needed safe haven.

“Anna has been with us for almost two weeks,” Banka wrote. “And every day seems to bring another story about the bits of her young life that now lay scattered along the route from Odessa to Kyiv, to Lutsk, to Lviv, to the Polish border and then, finally, to Warsaw.”

Born in Chicago, Banka holds master’s degrees from the University of Illinois in Chicago (MSc, urban planning and policy, 1979) and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management (MBA, 1995) in addition to a bachelor’s from Furman. He has lived in Warsaw since 1996 and works as a commercial real estate advisor.

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