Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Young Ukrainians Step up for Open World Program

A new group of young Ukrainian professionals is in Northwest, Ohio, for  an Open World Program focusing on NGO management, building partnerships, developing resources, and empowering the people they serve. The Ukrainians will have opportunities to learn about local government as well as the daily lives of Americans through staying with host families and visiting various sites.  They will participate in social service and cultural programs; visit local and regional nonprofits and faith-based organizations such as Cherry Street mission; visit Port Clinton to learn about the Ottawa County Court House, United Way and Sutton Center; enjoy a day on Lake Erie and at Cedar Point; and spend time exploring and sharing. It's what these kinds of cultural exchanges are all about. Meanwhile, we will also learn from them, and increase our understanding of other cultures.

Our guests are:
*Yevhenii Olehovych Bondarets, from Kiev, who works with internally displaced refugees fleeing the war in eastern Ukraine.
*Oleksandra (Sasha) Kolomiichuk, from Zhytomyr, an instructor and student at Ivano Franco State University and volunteer with at-risk children, AIDs/HIV prevention, and stopping human trafficking.  Rep. Marcy Kaptur was thrilled to learn her parents are beekeepers!
*Lina Mykhailovska, a restoration artist at the Lviv Historic Museum, deputy editor of a Legal Protection League newspaper, dedicated to promoting Rule of Law and civil society.
*Kateryna Ivanivna Lovinska, from Burtyn, who works with various projects established by our US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, helping to manage and distribute humanitarian shipments and support public-private partnership projects to help the needy, educate children, and build sustainable agricultural projects.
*Alla Pavlivna Salatska, mayor of the rural villages of Kotiurzhyntsi, Blydni, and Cherniivka, under the Polonne City Council Unified Territory. She focuses on economc development, social services, addressing the need for jobs, fixing roads, improving the quality of life in small villages.
*Tamara Zykova is the facilitator of this delegation, as she was for the group from Burtyn and Starobilsk two years ago. She works with the American program Save Ukraine Now in Kiev, and is a long-time partner for a host of humanitarian, educational and professional programs.  She is a great friend of Open World, which is an extraordinary Library of Congress and US Congress international exchange and professional development program.

I was happy to meet this latest group of Ukrainians at a welcoming lunch at the Toledo Hungarian Club this past Sunday, sponsored by the Great Lakes Consortium for Training and Development (GLC).  The GLC, under the indefatiguable leadership of Elizabeth Balint, organizes and manages Open World programs here in the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan region. Viktoriya Maryamova is her hardworking assistant. The program is administered by World Services of LaCrosse, Inc.

At Life Revitalization Center(l-r):Yev Bondarets,
 Lina Mykhailovska, Tamara, Kateryna
Lovinska, CEO Liz Simon, Alla Salatska,
and Oleksandra Kolomiichuk
I also joined the lively group at the Cherry Street Mission's Life Revitalization Center, a multi-purpose program for the homeless and needy. Liz Simon, the CEO, talked about the range of services, partnerships, resources, and opportunities the center offers. Impressive! The group then went to serve lunch and meet people at
the Mission, eager to volunteer and to help out.  After lunch, they headed to Shared Lives Studio and Gallery in downtown Toledo, a beautiful art space filled with the beautiful work, in every medium, of artists with developmental disabilities. A major interest of the Open World delegation is how to generate income to sustain your NGO's mission and goals. Shared Lives is a great model.

Olga Shostachuk, left, interpreter par excellence,
who travels here from Cleveland, and Alla and Tamara   
Rep. Marcy Kaptur with
Sasha, whose parents are
beekeepers.
Our Ukrainian visitors started their cultural exchange journey with a bang and have a busy week ahead of them, learning about local government, agricultural organizations and projects, cultural NGOs like Common Space, and having meetings and exchanges with Bill Hilt of the World Affairs Council, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Toledo City Councilmember Peter Uvjagi, and more dedicated nonprofit leaders.
With Rep.Marcy Kaptur (far right) at the Hungarian Club
Kudos to all of them, to Elizabeth and the GLC, to Tamara and translator Olga, to Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Open World, and to the latest Ukrainian delegation for their commitment to building a strong Ukraine and a peaceful world.  These young professionals are the future of Ukraine.

Some of the members of an Open World delegation
from western Ukraine, Nov. 2012
An Open World delegation from Burtyn, thanks to the work of Marcy Kaptur, 
and from Starobelsk in far-eastern Ukraine where I served with the Peace Corps, Nov. 2014.







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