Our secretariat is taking shape and growing. Nina Bondar unfortunately had to move on to continue her studies, but luckily more good forces are joining us. In July, Daryna Koryagina joined us as our communications officer and started the work of putting our communications into order and strategically make the Ukrainian-Danish Youth House heard and known in the world.
Yakym Yermak has also chosen to spend his holidays with us as our summer intern, helping with visuals and design as well as assisting with activities. In August, we will also have Andrii Lanetskyi moving into our office as our new Administrative and Grant Officer, which I am also looking very much forward to.
I am very happy to see the team growing with so dedicated and good people, and I am excited to see what we can create with more resources onboard! And I was also very happy and touched when they suprised me with cake, specially designed card and kvas for my 30th birthday the 10th of July! Lucky to have good colleauges.
We are still operating online, but even so, we have managed to have some really good events. Our big activity this summer was our Photo Lab of Important Stories, which was an 8-day workshop in visual storytelling. We had participants from all of Ukraine, and I am amazed by the results at the end, after Serhii Korovainyi’s dedicated guidance. The photos will be exhibited at youth festivals in September and at our premises – you should all be excited. Powerful stories from all over the country. We also launched our Danish Speaking Club, and I must admit that I am surprised by how many Ukrainians who actually do speak Danish and want to keep practicing. There is no way to learn about a culture like learning the language.
I personally have also started on a linguistic mission with Ukrainian lessons twice a week. Being interested in languages, this is just a gift. Although the grammar is way more complicated than Danish or English, it is such a pleasure when you realise how much sense it makes. I can’t wait until I am capable of meeting people and partners and talk with them in Ukrainian.
Further, I have spent a lot of time meeting with potential partners and youth organisations from across the country. This is extremely insightful for me. I have met with individuals and with big international organisations, and I have learned something every time. The main conclusion is: There is so much initiative out there – we just need to support it and make it happen. I get very optimistic on behalf of Ukraine when I meet all the young people who want to improve society – and all the local politicians, organisations and entities who want to support them.
I have had the pleasure to start the exploration of Ukraine. Ukrainian Leadership Academy invited me to visit their branch in Mykolaiv in June. Being introduced to their work – and wow, I am impressed – I see many similarities with the Danish Folk High Schools. I believe that non-formal learning can be just as impactful as formal learning, so I am happy to see young Ukrainians choosing to spend time learning about themselves and each other to strengthen the Ukrainian society. As a Dane, I know this is a method that has long-term impact.
Not for business, but for pleasure, I also went to Vinnytsia for a weekend. Very cute city with interesting history. Now that I did the touristic visit, I hope to be able to come back and meet the young civil society and artists of Vinnytsia.
There is always a reason for a fun get-together with colleagues. In early July, we had a summer celebration with our colleagues from the Danish Youth Council in Copenhagen and from the Danish Cultural Institute in Copenhagen and Riga, where we celebrated our achievements the first half of this year. We also challenged our artistic skills with a good game of Drawasaurus. I can really recommend this if you want some games that work for online meetings!
We are planning a lot of things for September. We have selected participants for the Youth Leader Exchange Program, we will visit youth festivals in Lviv, Severodonetsk and Copenhagen, we are planning different creative workshops and masterclasses, and people keep reaching out with good ideas for collaboration, so I know our program will be both rich and varied!
I will leave for vacation next week and go to Denmark and Norway, but I am already looking forward to come back and start our autumn program!