Originally from different parts of Ukraine, with different backgrounds and stories, but equally motivated, initiative-taking and eager to gain new experience and knowledge – let us introduce KIGA’s scholarship holders who will join the European Forum Alpbach 2019.
VALERIYA IZHYK, Scholarship for young change-makers
Hi! I am a 24-year-old graduate of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and a current student of Kyiv School of Economics Master Programme on Public Policy and Governance.
In April 2018, I entered the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine - one of the 10 pilot ministries, being reorganized under the Public Administration reform. I came through six stages of open competition and became a Reform specialist in the Directorate General for Strategic Planning and European Integration. I have never dreamt to be a civil servant. But in November 2014, when I was a 19-year-old History Department sophomore, the Euromaidan started. People went on the streets to defend their choice for the European future. Later on, we were forced to defend our choice for Europe not in Kyiv – but on the frontline in the Eastern Ukraine.
That moment I realized that my role was no longer to be an observer who carefully studies and interprets the past. Since that time, being part of dozens of initiatives, I came to the conclusion that there is no other way to build a safe democratic country, but to become a builder myself.
The Directorate General for Strategic Planning and European Integration, where I am working now, is aimed at strengthening the functions of analysis and policy development, strategic planning and European integration in the Ministry. The management processes also are a subject of change: impact assessment, policy evaluation, consultations with stakeholders and “evaluate first” principle are being set as a key rules. This set of rules requires from the Directorate General experts wide expertise, ranging from budget planning to international dispute resolution.
Every day that I enter the Ministry, I feel a tiny step forward to Ukraine that I see in my dreams. Of course, it will not change overnight. By the way, we also do not stand still - our competences and knowledge are also growing. So, keep on lupaty ciu skalu!
I applied for European Forum Alpbach with the foreknowledge that it would result in the better “helicopter view” of what is going on in Europe and beyond. I do believe that the Forum will be the Second Big Turning Point in my life after the Revolution of Dignity. It will inevitably reinforce me as an expert in EU integration and equip me with new food for thought.
I also envision Forum as a platform to tell more about Ukraine. Especially in terms of Russian propaganda that is widespread in Europe. The perfect result of the Forum for me will be the number of young participants who know at least 5 positive facts about Ukraine and want to personally come to Ukraine and check if it is true :)
In theory, I have always been convinced, that everyone may be a driving force in its community, dependent on particular empowering circumstances. However, it cost me years to realize the power of this assumption learned from books about resource mobilization theory and social movement organization. The Revolution of Dignity was an outstanding turning point that created my paradigm shift, a whole new frame of reference by which I saw the world, myself, and others in it.
I realized that people who came on the streets were change-makers – the force of social evolution. I have realized that everyone can become one, and everyone should. I decided to become a civil servant - this is my vision of how I may bring positive change – by contributing to strong democratic institutions building.
My position as a State Expert on European Integration and Coordination of International Relations, on the one hand, implies coordinating Association Agreement implementation. It means that I am responsible for expert support for 4 Policy directorates to define a set of interventions for implementation of Chapter 9 “Cooperation in science and technology” and Chapter 23 Education, training and youth. These are two parts where the framework of the sectoral cooperation with the Ministry is defined.
I shall also make impact analysis and propose my conclusions to the Directors of the Policy Directorates along with playing a gatekeeper role when the policy is on the stage of a formation. Practically it means proposing the logical framework that is in line with relevant EU priorities in sectoral cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries.
Another part of my responsibilities covers agenda-setting for development aid projects. Based on needs analysis I offer to initiate international technical assistance projects; attract international think tanks, such as World Bank and ETF, as expert assistance; and apply for the international financial assistance, for instance, European Investment Bank, to carry on activities beyond the Ukrainian Government budget allocations in the field of education and science.
It may sound too complicated and not so colorful but nobody has ever said that change-making is about simple and easily understandable fancy things :)
I would introduce Ukraine to Alpbach community as a transition democracy country that managed to make more reforms for the last 5 years than for all the history of
independent Ukraine. Young professionals made the most outstanding achievements and there is a list of successful projects in the field of public policy that worth sharing. Meanwhile, it would be also important to emphasize that we keep on preserving territorial integrity and independence from Russian Federation aggression. And this is the point where Liberty and Security as the general topic of the European Alpbach Forum 2019 meet my expectation about how the dilemma of the rest of 21 century sounds for global decision-makers.
IGOR LEVENETS, Scholarship for young change-makers
My name is Ihor and I’m 20 years old.
I was born in Ivano-Frankivsk, but now I am living, studying and working in Kyiv. Currently, I’m running my startup called GiftHub, where we help people pick tailored gifts for anybody and for any occasion. Every time somebody of our users presents a good gift for somebody, I feel proud of contributing to making that positive change in the relationships of our user and a gift-receiver.
I applied to join EFA for 3 main reasons:
1) The core of the Forum is its interdisciplinarity. I’ve always believed that every change in one sphere for sure affects other spheres as well. So in order to make comprehensively positive changes, you have to know how all the spheres work, however not-connected they might seem.
2) This year’s topic of EFA is “Liberty vs. Security”. The interrelation of these 2 concepts is probably the most controversial global issue nowadays. We now see no half measures in the world: the US bans Huawei thinking of security as the top priority — Telegram messenger lets users delete anybody’s messages ever made considering privacy (as a part of liberty) as a top human right. And we can name lots more examples, but many questions will remain unanswered. So EFA is expected to clarify the picture.
3) The scale of the Forum impresses. It gathers a truly international community of change-makers and all of them have their own points of view on every issue, so the potential of fruitful discussions and cooperation with them can’t but engage.
For me, a change-maker is an impact-maker. This is a person who positively affects people’s lives. He/she may absolutely realize that everything he/she does is made to make a difference or his/her actions to this end are made subconsciously, it doesn’t matter. But in the long run, good things will happen because of them.
I myself often give speeches, pieces of advice and lots of feedback for young student entrepreneurs, who are only at the beginning of their startup path. And when they afterward approach me telling that my words helped them go to the right direction or even simply keep doing business, I am happy to feel that I do really make a change for them.
My messages for the international community at EFA will be the following:
1) Ukraine is a country that specifically knows its pains and is already making big steps in order to release itself of them: we’re pushing anti-corruption reform, implementing decentralization reform, increasing transparency through the development of e-governance etc.
2) Ukraine gave birth to such great people as Yan Koum (WhatsApp founder) or Igor Sikorskiy (who invented a modern helicopter) and it still may and will offer even more big talents to the world community that will contribute their verse to make our world a better place.
3) Ukraine has an enormous potential to make a giant leap in entrepreneurship and tech as it already has some success almost-unicorn stories like Grammarly, MacPaw, and Jooble and is making first steps in developing such cutting-edge technologies as HyperLoop and 5G+Internet of Things.
UMEROV MUHAMMED, Scholarship for IDPs and residents of TOT
Selam aleykum! Hello everybody!
My name is Muhammed Umerov, I was born and grew up in Crimea. In 2014, I was 15, and even then I was understanding the responsibility for my Crimea. It is through it and all this struggle. All events, projects, promotions, missed out nights, training, queues signed by bureaucrats, tons of knowledge and experience from other people.
Actually, Alpbach is experience with which I can personally become useful for free Crimea. Alpbach story is probably about my evolution.
Two years ago, I could not tell about the soft power of Ukraine, and now I am sometimes a small part of cultural diplomacy. I am glad to be a part of this team, and I'm sure we will use it right after the Forum.
One of my friends after the forum said that EFA turned the world view. I did not believe it, but he sure proved it. When you realize that the lectures of many speakers cost thousands of euros, and you have an opportunity not only to listen to them but also to communicate with them, the questions about the level of the Forum disappear. I expect a maximum of networking, relevant new theses for us, and most importantly – active discussions during our events.
However, talking is not enough. Since 2014, everyone has been speaking about these problems. We have to find new explanations.
Films, performances, exhibitions, brochures about these categories of citizens. We have a demand for such forms of explanation, and I will be honored to describe these issues more easily, but at the same time more understandable and useful to all participants of EFA. It is important to do this because this is an example of people’s position under occupation and war, which has been having a place in one of the European countries for the past 5 years.
Unfortunately, many people even in Ukraine perceive the problems of IDPs as something ordinary. In our country, more than one million people have been forced to start a new life in new cities and new people. It is very difficult to do so, although IDPs are staying within Ukraine. For the last 5 years, very little has been done to improve conditions for IDPs. The European society should be aware of these problems, because Ukraine is the largest state in Europe, and if we say that we are one big European family, then our relatives should understand what happens to other family members.
Crimean Tatars, as indigenous people of Ukraine, have been living in the struggle for their right to self-determination throughout the modern history of Ukraine. The European example of the Saami people can help us to help Crimean people preserve their culture and identity without discriminating the rest of the population of the peninsula.
We must show the problem of IDPs and people living in the TOT in full context and speak about different examples of human rights’ violations. Today’s situation in Ukraine and these problems – is a struggle between democratic values and Russian world.
I want to tell about the indicators of response to some fact. I would like to apply to Speakers’ Night exactly with this topic. I have been studying this topic for more than 2 years, and I have found a number of reasons why the awareness of European society about the situation in Ukraine is very low. My goal is to tell participants how we react at a subconscious level to one tragedy more seriously than to another tragedy.
INNA SANDIUK, Scholarship for young change-makers
I am an entreprenuer, educator, and active citizen.
I believe that change-makers are people who make small steps on a daily basis that eventually lead to a big difference in their respective communities. It can be a student who starts segregating house garbage and inspires his/her peers to do the same; it can be a public servant willing to go the extra mile and organize the first UN model in his/her city and educate young people on international affairs; it can be an IT specialist who launches a med tech startup to fight cardiovascular diseases.
I am a co-founder of an online school Enhance your English. As a company, we help Ukrainians hone their communication skills in English in order to equip them with presentation, negotiations and networking skills. I deal with designing, promoting, scaling our products and fostering our YouTube channel. We create engaging and motivational content for our students. To do so, we interviewed a former Minister of Economy and Trade of Ukraine Pavlo Sheremeta and a top-notch expert in the field of marketing Andriy Fedoriv.
In 2019 I was a licensee and lead organizer of TEDxVinnytsia. Our core team attracted 20 partners, trained and prepared 12 speakers, hosted 100 guests.
I am privileged to be a part of "Young Generation Will Change Ukraine" and "Ukrainian youth delegate to the United Nations" programs designed and supported by Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Family Foundation. In 2016 I participated in the Minority Fellowship Program at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I managed to deliver two statements on sustainability and human rights at the UN Headquarters. I am passionate about sustainability, empowerment, TED Talks, innovations, multilanguage and multicultural environment, traveling, and samba.
I have a dream of writing a book that could make a difference in people's lives.
English, German and Polish are the languages I speak fluently.
As I was one of the Ukrainian youth delegates to the United Nations back in 2015, I remember having a discussion on a statement: “When you are not invited to the negotiations table, then you are on the table”. Letting someone else make decisions on your behalf is an easier path, but certainly not mine. Being a part of decision-making processes means taking responsibility, creating an action plan and reaching goals. I am a committed team player and a responsible leader who is constantly eager to learn and do whatever it takes to see tangible results of my work. Therefore, I see myself as a part of the European Forum Alpbach as I would like to be a part of discussions addressing global, regional and local issues, coming up with solutions to guide us through economic, political, social and ecological turmoils of today.
I strongly believe in the power of digital learning opportunities and I would like to build an international online project in the not-too-distant-future and create a Ukraine-based company offering solutions that could be applicable worldwide. Hence, I am specifically interested in learning from experts in the field of technology, education, and entrepreneurship during the European Forum Alpbach.
I am always ready to pay it forward whenever I get a privilege of sharpening my skill set – by organizing workshops, lectures, webinars, writing articles and blog posts, spreading a word via YouTube, and most importantly – by coming up with new project ideas and implementing them.
My key messages to highlight at EFA:
1. We are a democracy that struggles with a lot of economic and political turmoil, however, as a society, Ukrainians are motivated to go the extra mile to invest their talents and skills into building the country we deserve to live in.
2. We have many talented people. Our IT industry is rapidly developing and many Ukrainian companies provide services and products across the globe - Grammarly, Readdle, Petcube to name just a few.
3. Education plays in a crucial role in the transformation process in Ukraine, therefore we take into account innovative approaches and are eager to learn best practices that result in huge online educational projects like Prometheus or EdEra.
With the great team, we are getting ready for the European Forum Alpbach 2019!