Studrespublika’s Project Manager Olha Kovalenko took part in the International Visitor Leadership Program entitled “Global Youth Leadership: U.S. Perspectives”, which was organized by the U.S. Department of State.
For the program were also selected the other Ukrainian youth leaders – international visitors, among whom werePavlo Cherkashyn(Deputy President, Youth Diplomatic Initiative),Dmytro Kolesnyk(Executive Director, PLAST National Scout Organization Ukraine),Oleksandra Kudrytska(Head, Centerfor Democratic Renaissance),Sergii Molchanov(President, Junior Chamber International Youth, Kyiv Branch).
For the program were selected only 5 Ukrainian youth leaders – international visitors, among whom were Pavlo Cherkashyn (Deputy President, Youth Diplomatic Initiative), Dmytro Kolesnyk (Executive Director, PLAST National Scout Organization Ukraine), Olha Kovalenko (Project Manager, All-Ukrainian Youth Organization “Students Republic”, Oleksandra Kudrytska (Head, Center for Democratic Renaissance), Sergii Molchanov (President, Junior Chamber International Youth, Kyiv Branch).
I would like to mention that over the years in this program (IVLP) took part prominent political and public figures. Among them, for example, Naoto Kan (former Prime Minister of Japan), Mikheil Saakashvili (President of Georgia), Nicolas Sarkozy (President of France), Leonid Kuchma and Leonid Kravchuk (Presidents of Ukraine) and some others.
During the three-week visit to the United States, we have an opportunity in a variety of fields experience this country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with American counterparts. Professional meetings reflected ours’ professional interests; also we visited U.S. public and private sector organizations related to our field of interest and had time for different kind excursions.
The purpose of the visit was to explore youth outreach and policy programs at the federal, state, and local levels, examine youth engagement through education, economic opportunity, and civic participation, explore model programs that promote civic awareness and youth leadership in a variety of contexts such schools, colleges, youth clubs, art programs, interfaith initiatives, and political advocacy.
For us, it was no surprise that our program started in the capital of the United States – Washington, DC, which has a worldwide reputation as a cosmopolitan city with international flair and a rich cultural life.
In Washington, DC, we had meetings not only with representatives of public organizations, but also, for example, with representatives of U.S. Department of States, Kennan Institute, National Endowment for Democracy and others.
We had a unique chance to participate International conference “Ukraine in Washington 2012: Leadership in a Global World”, where I met the member of Studrespublika’s Partnership Council, state figureAnatolii Tolstoukhov and other members of the expert and political circles.
One of the memorable meetings in Washington, DC, was with the country’s oldest largest and most inclusive national student association, representing millions of students – The United States Student Association (USSA).
USSA tracks and lobbies federal legislation and policy, and organizes students from across USA to participate in the political process, through testifying in official Congressional hearings, letter-writing campaigns, and face-to-face lobby visits between students and their elected officials. USSA also represents students in various national coalitions, including the Committee for Education Funding, Student Aid Alliance, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
After our visiting the capital city of the United States, we were welcomed to Wisconsin and its largest city, Milwaukee.
There we had one of the unforgettable meetings with members of The Peer Solutions Program. PSP offers three key services: The Restorative Justice Program, The Peace Making Program and Circle Keeper Training. During our meeting we took part in the last one. This program officer at schools interested in sustaining peaceful environments through the leadership of students. It was really unexpected and amazing!
Our next destination was Seattle – the largest urban area north of San Francisco. There we had meetings with different kind non-profit organizations. One of them was the student-run Junior State of America (JSA), which operates on high school campuses nationwide as an extra-curricular activity. JSA’s members told us that their organization allows students to experience first-hand the drama and power of politics as well as the challenges and responsibilities of leadership. Also I knew that JSA chapters serve as the center of political awareness at the schools and JSA conventions bring thousands of students together to share their opinions and learn from each other. During our meeting we discussed the organization’s efforts to increase political participation and civic awareness among youth.
The other one interesting and useful meeting was with Youth and Volunteer Team Manager of known organization “EarthCorps” (EC) Elizabeth White. Their mission is to build global community through local environmental service. Ms. White told us how the organization educates young leaders, promotes awareness of environmental issues, and undertakes environmental restoration programs. Also we discussed benefits to their members, system of working with volunteers and Corp’s one-year intensive programs.
One of the highlights meetings in Boston was with senior researcher at The Center for information & Research On Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University (CIRCLE) Felicia Sullivan. She told us that CIRCLE conducts research on civic education in schools, colleges, and community settings and on young Americans’ voting and political participation, service, activism, media use and other forms of civic engagement. Also it was interesting to know in terms of methodology related to how they estimate Youth Voter Turnout, what methods and survey instruments they used in work. We paid our attention to CIRCLE’s research programs in Civic Knowledge, Concepts of Citizenship, and Youth Attitude and Beliefs.
As well a pleasant surprise meeting was with representatives of organization named “City Year Boston”. City year’s mission is to build democracy through citizen service, civic leadership and social entrepreneurship. Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Special Initiatives Meredith Hollingsworth told us that they do it through service that they can demonstrate the power and idealism of young people, engage citizens to benefit the common good, and develop young leaders of the next generation. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England. It was nice to know that Studrespublika’s goals are similar in many ways.
After the conclusion of our Boston program, we traveled to New York, where we had a chance to explore the city, prior to departure. It was fantastic time!
In conclusion I want to say that all organized for us meetings were undoubtedly useful. The experience that we have received will be necessarily useful for our work in the future. And those new contacts will help us develop international relations in the future.
I want to thank all those who took part in the preparation of our International Visitor Leadership Program, who met with us and whom is due to the large number of meetings, I did not mention in this article.