European Forum Alpbach (EFA) indeed was one of the most desirable destinations for me during the last 4 years.

Coming back in 2015, the time, when I first heard about the Alpbach, I had no clue what to expect from this Program. However, the perspective to spend three weeks in Alps plateau surrounded by outstanding youth with whom you are on the same wavelength was too good to be true.

Here I’d like to share some insights with you, but, please, do not tell anyone about my fuck ups :)

1. Lose a battle – win a war

Yes, actually, I received the Kyiv Initiative Group Alpbach (KIGA) scholarship from my second try. In 2015 I applied to the scholarship for internally displaced people (IDPs). Just half and a year ago I moved to Kyiv due to the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine and almost straightforward received a scholarship to study in Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan for one year. Thus, I was quite confident that I would hit it out of the park, but, the odds were against me.

Afterward, I set my sights on definitely coming to Alpbach in following years and in 2018 I was delighted to receive a KIGA scholarship.

2. Alpbach is not only about receiving inspiration from outstanding opinion leaders but also sharing your personal experience of striving for excellence.

Looking backward, this failed experience gave me much more benefits rather than drawbacks. For the next 4 years, I grow dramatically both personally and professionally. During those years I was actively engaged in civic society activism advocating for reforms and democratic transformation in Ukraine.

In Democracy Study Centre together with a fantastic team we developed and launched an online course on civic participation. Due to the Open University of Reform and further work at the Reanimation Package of Reform I flung myself into reforms implementation in the most critical spheres. Finally, my experience in standing for IDPs rights while working at the Danish Refugee Council made a valuable contribution to the Alpbach discourse last year.

So, in 2018 I was not only a participant of EFA, who seeks personal motivation but an individual, who can share own and national experiences of fighting for democracy and the rule of law on the international arena.

3. Participants of Alpbach is the greatest value!

The most inspiring in Alpbach is the community of extraordinarily talented young leaders from 92 countries! People with different backgrounds, starting from artists to doctors, but with common values empowering to contribute to society.

Alpbach is a unique platform to establish long-term networking with peers all over the world. For me, one of the most remarkable friendships has been made with participants form Balkan countries. We were so thrilled to share our political and economic situations and found a lot in common in our countries.

Nothing brings you closer than sunrise hiking. Meeting the sun two times within 3 days on the top of the mountain in Alpbach, sleeping for 3 hours, staring the hiking at 4:30 in the total darkness, challenge yourself physically and mentally to be on the right moment together with nature and people.

These are the moments to remember!

Under no circumstance can Alpbach leave you indifferent! The idea of diversity and democracy is surrounding you, inspiring and empowering you to make an impact in your community.

Alpbach is the right place to address achievement of your country and brainstorm on further steps towards democracy together with bright leaders.

Ievgeniia Bodnya

Advocacy Legal Officer, Danish Refugee Council.

Member of the Global Shapers Kyiv Hub,

Scholar of the Polish Erasmus for Ukraine Program, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan

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© NGO Kyiv Initiative Group Alpbach, 2019