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Youth Leadership Program - WASHINGTON

Georgetown waterfront
YLP 2003 participants at the Georgetown waterfront

At CNN's Crossfire. From l to r: Mark Hadzewycz, Program Coordinator Miriam Bates, Damian Zajac, Natalia Siouta, and Vadim Ostrovsky (YLP 2002)

The official program activities include introductions and tours of some of DC's most famous sites, such as the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court. In their free time, students enjoy some of the fun and educational activities in DC, such as a visit to the National Cathedral, an afternoon at the Smithsonian museums, walking tours of the national monuments at night, a Dixieland Jazz performance at the Kennedy Center, participation in the live audience of CNN's Crossfire, Screen on the Green - an outdoor film festival on the National Mall, and group dinners in some of DC's most popular neighborhoods, such as Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, and Dupont Circle.

Justyna Jerzewski, Natalie Shevchuk, Rustem Umerov, and Orest Sopka (YLP 2003) at Screen on the Green

Screen on the Green

For those participants who had previously not considered graduate school and/or careers in Washington, their week-long introduction to the tastes, ambience, people, and the fun of DC have prompted many to consider this option more seriously. USUF staff hopes to see many YLP alumni at its office in the near future as they pursue graduate school and careers in the Washington, DC area.






YLP 2003 in front of White House
YLP 2003 participants in front of the White House

"We need engagement in U.S.-Ukraine relations. Otherwise, we will partly be responsible for Ukraine's failure. Be active. Be knowledgeable. This is not just magnanimity - it is in U.S. interests to help Ukraine. We should fight for Ukraine because America, a real melting pot, has put a little Ukrainian blood in all of us."
-Ambassador William Green Miller, YLP 2002
Program Activities 2004
The official program opened on Saturday evening at the home of Robert & Nadia McConnell, President of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. Guest speakers Major General Nicholas Krawciw (U.S. Army, Ret.) and Ambassador William Green Miller, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, interacted informally with the students throughout the night and answered their many questions about their careers and impressions of U.S.-Ukraine relations. Major General Krawciw and Ambassador Miller concluded the evening with formal presentations on their careers with the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department and their insights on the prospects and problems of U.S.-Ukraine relations.

The Foundation was able to schedule meetings with officials in the Administration, State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Embassy of Ukraine. Students met with Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of Global Affairs, and Ambassador Steve Pifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department. Ms. Dobriansky, a Ukrainian-American, currently oversees humanitarian assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan and has worked with several programs in Eastern Europe in the past, including Ukraine. She provided the students with an overview of the needs, problems, and successes in Afghanistan and Iraq. She explained that, despite the exigencies of these hotspots, there is a constant: "Ukraine matters." Though U.S.-Ukraine relations went through some rough times in Kuchma's second administration, Ms. Dobriansky affirmed that the objectives and goals of the United States remain the integration of a democratic Ukraine into the Western community.

Peace Corps returnees
Peace Corps returnees Jason Campbell,
Ken Bossong, and Michael Kiefer speak to students

One of the most memorable meetings of the week was with Gloria Steele, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Europe & Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ms. Steele highlighted some of the target areas of USAID's programs in Ukraine, such as HIV/AIDS, corruption, agricultural reform, and trafficking of women. She also emphasized the importance of creating new programs that will support the development of Ukraineís future leaders and remarked, "That is why I am so happy to see you and meet with you today!"

Ms. Steele then opened the meeting to the students and asked their suggestions for new USAID activities in Ukraine. In regards to AIDS and HIV, Volodymyr Makar explained, "Ukraine's youth has no occupation. There are no longer pioneer clubs from the past. They are a 'generation of hooligans' and have nothing to do. What needs to be done about this? We need to organize clubs and activities for youth in the small and large cities in Ukraine." Vasyl Dutchak added, "Education is a problem as well - I think that's why drugs and HIV is such a problem. Ukraine also needs programs to keep its young men within the country. Many have nothing and leave Ukraine because they don't want to be on the street and don't want to get involved in illegal activity."

At a meeting with Todd Calongne, from the office of Strategic Communications & Publications at USAID, students got some practical tips on career development. Mr. Calongne affirmed that the key elements of a successful career are loyalty and a willingness to work hard.

Ukraine's economic and financial future was the topic at the Department of Commerce, where International Trade Specialist Michael Considine gave a status report of on efforts to increase American exports to Ukraine.

Youth Leadership Program 2003 on the steps of the Old Executive Office Building with Assistant to Mr. Beebe center)
YLP 2003 on steps of Old Executive Office Building

Participants also met with George S. Beebe, Special Advisor to the Vice President for National Security Affairs, at the Vice President's Ceremonial Hall in the Old Executive Office Building. Mr. Beebe commented on the war on terrorism, which is also a war of ideas to make the world safer, better, and more secure. Ukraine needs to be part of this effort as a "producer of security, not a consumer." As Ukraine reforms internally, "it will become an example and can demonstrate what success is to the rest of the Newly Independent States." The students' visit also included a tour of the ornate Ceremonial Room where they saw a drawer in a wooden desk with signatures of all the vice presidents since Harry Truman.

To understand the Ukrainian perspective on U.S.-Ukraine relations, students met with Volodymyr Yatsenkivskiy, Minister-Counselor at the Embassy of Ukraine. Mr. Yatsenkivskiy outlined the history of U.S.-Ukraine relations, the role of the Ukrainian-American community in those sustained relations, and motivated students to believe in the future of U.S.-Ukraine relations by taking part in them: "We can be successful if you can be successful. A lot depends on you to make a difference. Everything is in your hands. Anyone who wants business with Ukraine can have it. Today is a time for opportunities."

YLP students toured the U.S. Capitol and visited their Congressman's office, where they had the chance to apply the week's topics to one-on-one discussions with Congressional staff. Students asked questions about their Representative's issue interests and views on U.S.-Ukraine relations. As a wrap-up to the week's talks on leadership and political activism and as a follow-up to their congressional visit, all participants will send a letter of concern on a Ukraine-related issue to their Representative or Senator.

Orest Deychakiwsky, Staff Advisor for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, gave an appraisal of the current status of U.S.-Ukraine relations and provided examples of how staffers on the Hill can work to advance better relations between the two countries.

"Politics is power. How do you make an impact in them? Have the desire to make an impact and know the system. Identify your goal, allow time, and make yourself known by volunteering, networking, and building relationships."
former Congressman Charles Dougherty

Participants also learned about the power of advocacy in a panel briefing with three of the founding members of the Action Ukraine Coalition: former Congressman Charles Dougherty, Vera Andryczyk, and Zenia Chernyk of the Ukrainian Federation of America. The panelists spoke on how Action Ukraine works to advance a democratic Ukraine by developing more effective channels of communication between the U.S. Congress and the Ukrainian-American community. Earlier in the week, students also had the chance to hear Michael Sawkiw, Jr., President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, speak about the history of his organization and the important role of the Ukrainian-American community in his work.

At a briefing at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, Community Partnerships Project (CPP) Director Vera Andrushkiw provided a brief history and role of the Ukrainian-American community and introduced the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, its beginnings, current projects, and how they can get involved with USUF. In another panel, the Foundation welcomed three former Peace Corps volunteers in Ukraine, Ken Bossong, Jason Campbell, and Michael Kiefer. Each discussed their reasons for choosing the Peace Corps, their work and the realities of life abroad, entertaining stories, and some of their most rewarding experiences.

Volodymyr Makar at the Close Up Foundation
Volodya at Close Up

In addition to the meetings around town, participants had the chance to attend leadership training seminars at the Close Up Foundation, the nationís largest nonprofit and nonpartisan citizenship education organization. Close Up Vice President Charles Tampio led group discussions on leadership styles, the nature of leadership in democracy, and how to determine one's personal leadership skills. The meetings at the Close Up Foundation place the students' high level meetings in a new perspective as a study of leadership that they can one day achieve.

The program concluded on Friday morning with a certificate ceremony at the Taras Shevchenko Monument in downtown DC led by President Nadia McConnell, Vice President John A. Kun, CPP Director Vera Andrushkiw, and Program Coordinator Miriam Bates. Mayor Petro Pshenyshniuk from Pervomaisk and Mayor Roman Sushko from Kalush visiting with the Community Partnerships Project also attended. Vera Andrushkiw outlined the history of the monument and the significant contributions of the Ukrainian-American community that made the monument possible. Both mayors expressed their gratitude for being invited to the closing ceremony and their hope that Ukraine's youth will one day have the opportunity to participate in a similar program.

Volodymyr Hirnyk & Lada Pastushak talk with the mayor of Pervomaisk after the ceremony
Vlad & Lada talk with mayor of Pervomaisk

At the conclusion of the ceremony, each student received a Certificate of Completion and signed a personal lifetime commitment to the promotion of U.S.-Ukraine relations. Some of the specific leadership goals included to take an expanded leadership role in a school, church or community organization regarding Ukraine within one year and to perform a significant volunteer or intern service in support of an issue or need relating to Ukraine within five years.

In addition to their certificates of completion, students received some parting gifts from the Foundation: Myron Kuropas' book Ukrainians in America to supplement their knowledge on the Ukrainian-American community and a commemorative, illustrative book on Washington, DC.


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