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Marta Kolinsky Bojko

Martha Kolinsky Bojko – An Inspiration:

CYM, as an organization, is fortunate to have many talented individuals among its members. One such member, which can be held as an inspirational to our youth, is Martha Kolinsky Bojko, who has successfully integrated her passion and love for Ukraine with her professional aspirations.

Martha, the sumivka

Martha followed in the footsteps of her older brothers and became a member of CYM when she just turned six years old. As a member of the Hartford, Connecticut (USA) branch of CYM, where she remained active throughout her youth and adulthood, Martha participated in summer camps, annual Zlets and Zdvyhs, as well as the International CYM Zlets and Olympics of Los Angeles, Calgary, Rome, Australia and Atlanta. Martha’s activity in CYM was not limited to that of a participant, as she has always actively contributed to CYM’s ongoing work with youth. She held key positions her local branch’s uprava, and participated as a komanda member in numerous summer camps. Martha considers one of her most important accomplishments to be the work she has done with her riy, “Orly”, which she took under her wing when they were still sumeniata and stayed as their vykhovnyk until she left for Ukraine to begin her academic research.

Martha, the professional

Martha Kolinsky Bojko is a doctoral student in medical anthropology at the University of Connecticut, having completed an undergraduate degree in Political Science/International Relations at Trinity College, and a Master of Science degree in Cross-Cultural and Health Communication at Central Connecticut State University. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as the research and administrative coordinator for the Center for International Community Health Studies (CICHS) in the Department of Community Medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Martha assisted in the planning and implementation of health training programs for international professionals from over fifty countries, coordinated field site placements, and conducted research on maternal and child health issues and adolescent and women’s health and HIV/AIDS risk in Hartford, Connecticut; the Philippines; Sri Lanka; and India.

Martha, the Fulbright Scholar

In 2001, Martha was honored with two prestigious awards, the Fulbright Student Program award of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Program award. Martha’s research and field work in these programs, which was conducted in Uzhhorod from December 2001 through June 2003, was titled “Young women at risk: Health and sexuality at a time of transition in Ukraine”, and this body of work grew into a doctoral dissertation. The goal of the research project was to assess the adaptation of young women in Uzhhorod, Ukraine in the context of the changing political, social and economic realities of Ukrainian society.

Advice for Yunatstvo and Parents

Martha found her experience in Uzhorod eye-opening and personally fulfilling. Having been raised as an active Ukrainian-American within the Ukrainian diaspora of the United States, Martha grew up with an active interest in Ukraine and Ukrainian issues. She now considers herself incredibly fortunate to have an opportunity to integrate those personal interests with her professional career.

Based on her experiences, Martha shares some advice for yunatstvo and parents:

    Follow your passions and be creative in adapting and transforming them into your professional pursuits. At university, major in what you are passionate about and pursue all opportunities offered within that field of study (internships, study-abroad, clubs, conferences). Talk to professors, find out about professional organizations (regional, national, international) which exist in your field of interest. Many offer discounted student memberships and publish web sites and newsletters listing academic, employment and funding/grant opportunities for students. Also, become familiar with the research being done in that particular field.

    Never underestimate the benefit of knowing multiple languages. Parents, don’t underestimate the importance of teaching your children Ukrainian at an early age. Today, Ukraine is waiting for talented young (and older) professionals who can assist with bringing Ukraine into the European community. Being able to conduct work, whether it be research or any other type of activity, in the native language of a given country is critical, as too much is lost in the translation of intermediaries.

    Take advantage of opportunities offered through CYM. “For me, the CYM trip to Europe in 1982 was my first time on a plane and my first international trip. I regard that trip and those experiences as the springboard to international travel and what cemented my interest in all things international. From then on, CYM provided me with the opportunities to travel and expand my horizons. Trips to Svitovi Zlety in Los Angeles, Calgary, Rome, Australia allowed me to see the world and meet fellow sumivtsi from all over the world.”

The Future

Martha plans to continue to conduct applied anthropological research in either a university or NGO setting, focusing on Ukraine and the Central/Eastern European region. Her Fulbright research experience has inspired an even greater desire to work with the young people of Ukraine and assist in developing programs that will enable them to become healthy and productive citizens of Ukraine.

Fulbright Information

Interested in pursuing further educational and research opportunities? The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and because they have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields.

The Fulbright student program is open to students who are completing their bachelor degrees and graduate students (masters and doctoral level). For students in the United States, the Fulbright student program is administered by the Institute for International Education in New York. There is a Fulbright office located in Kyiv (with a very supportive staff under the direction of Dr. Martha Bohachevky-Chomiak) which assists Fulbright students and scholars from the U.S. while they are in Ukraine, and also administers Fulbright educational exchange programs for students from Ukraine to study in the U.S.

Web sites for funding opportunities for American students, scholars and professionals in Ukraine and for Ukrainian students, scholars and professionals in the U.S.:

Young Women at Risk… a Fulbright Research Project Martha Kolinsky Bojko utilized a mix of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods including participant observation, key informant and in-depth interviews, and a survey to understand a young woman’s current position and future life aspirations within a transitional society and to identify and describe the economic and social factors which are influencing the behavior and impacting on the health and sexuality of young women. The research aimed to link macroeconomic and political changes currently taking place in Ukraine to the situation and decisions being made by young women in structuring their lives, their future aspirations, their intimate relationships and their health and sexual behavior. It is anticipated that understanding the dynamics of these relationships within specific cultural settings will assist in the development of appropriate women’s social and health policies and in the design and delivery of intervention programs, STD and HIV prevention efforts, and health care services focusing on young women in Ukraine and other transition countries.

- Lida Mykytyn
This site in Ukrainian

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