By Michael M. Bycko
NEW YORK - There is a new place where Ukrainians around the world gather. Riding on the dawn of a new millennium, they meet at a place where a single word, vision, dream, or idea, spans the entire planet in mere moments. It is a place where Ukrainians can unite to one powerful voice that speaks to the rest of the world. This place is called the Internet - the single most profound technological development that will be seen in our lifetime.
The Ukrainian Youth Association has also embraced the Internet and developed an award-winning Web Site for its members. Since its inception in May 1999, CYMnet, as the project is known, grows with the support of its thousands of members. Now any sumivets (CYM member) can, via a computer, read about current events within their organization from all over the world, or chat with a colleague. They can, through electronic photographs and videos, see what other Cymivtsi are doing around the world. A counselor, or vykhovnyk, can print valuable teaching materials for their youth group. The possibilities are virtually endless.
The Ukrainian Youth Association takes CYMnet a step further by sponsoring the 1st World CYMnet Conference, to take place April 1-2, at Oselia CYM in Ellenville, New York. This Internet conference is open to members of CYM more than 13 years old with an interest in computers and the Internet, or with a desire to learn more about it.
"This conference represents a first for CYM - members from around the world will meet to learn about and discuss matters related to the Internet and technology. They will take home with them new ideas and possibilities that can change the way they think about and perform their work in CYM," says Andriy Bihun, chairman of CYMnet. "At the same time, the conference serves as a unique forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge that can serve to strengthen the ability of CYM's leaders to address the needs of our youth," says Bihun.
Amongst the various presentations, attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in many workshops. Members who attend can learn how to design a web page in Ukrainian as well as in English, scan and work with photographs on the computer, create graphics, type email in Ukrainian, and more.
There are workshops and activities planned for those members who have never even touched a computer before.
"We recognize that the range of interests and professional expertise among our (CYM) membership is remarkably diverse. We have tailored this event to meet the needs of everyone from the computer novice, to the technical professional who has a knowledge of the technology and wants to take the understanding to its next level, to those who might consider themselves "technically challenged" but are motivated by an interested in the educational, academic or other facets while leaving the technical details to someone else. Different tracks at the conference will be designed to address each of these groups," says Bihun.
Novices will learn Internet basics, such as how the Internet works, how to navigate the Web, and more. There will be round-table discussions for vykhovnyky on how CYM can utilize the Internet to better facilitate learning and other activities. Young sumivtsi can participate in a career workshop. Here they will have a chance to talk with other sumivtsi who work day-to-day in computers and other technical fields.
This is the first of such proposed conferences. Sumivtsi from as far away as Australia, Ukraine, Germany and England are planning to attend. Any member of CYM who is interested can contact their local oseredok. Alternately, interested members can visit CYM on the Internet at www.cym.org.
CYMnet's origin dates back to 10 October 1996 as a mandate from the CYM World Executive to the US National Executive Board. The mandate instructed the board to create a presence for all of CYM on the Internet. In accordance with this mandate, a group of CYM members from around the United States held a meeting on 27 February 1999, in Cleveland, Ohio, and accepted responsibility to develop both a worldwide CYM site and a site for CYM in the United States.
That meeting attracted CYM members with a diverse range technical and computer skills, as well as those who had only limited experience with computers. However, they all shared two things - a love for CYM and a common interest in the Internet.
Armed with technical knowledge and extensive requirements gathered from CYM members around the world, the group envisioned an indispensable resource for CYM members around the world. In the course of two days, amid grueling brainstorming sessions, content and functionality was prioritized, and a new vision of a worldwide presence for CYM on the Internet took shape.
It became evident that the implementation of a world class site on the Internet, that would support a rapidly-growing number of proposed features, would be an enormous undertaking. The group recognized the need for a permanent project team that would work to make the vision a reality. The participants of the Cleveland meeting formed a committee designed to create and maintain CYM's Internet presence. In a matter of weeks, the committee grew to include members of CYM from 7 countries on four continents. Thus the CYMnet Committee was formed.
Presently, the CYMnet Committee continues to expand as National Executives of CYM in numerous countries name their representatives to the body, and other CYM Webmasters join in the effort. The evolving site at www.cym.org is the first product of the efforts of the CYMnet Committee. It is a step in the process to establish a site filled with general information for those who have a desire to learn about the organization, as well as a wealth of resources and materials for CYM members.
With a mandate to bridge the gap between CYM members around the world and provide a medium for communication and sharing of information, the CYMnet Committee has committed itself to a schedule of planned feature releases that will happen incrementally according to an aggressive schedule.
The CYMnet Committee can be reached via email at CYMnet@cym.org.
Andrij Bebko contributed to this article.