The imposing historic Georgetown mansion, which is home to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., was the backdrop and set the tone for the third annual Youth Leadership Seminar, organized by the Ukrainian American Youth Association (“CYM”). A few select high school juniors and seniors, from across the United States, who have proven their leadership potential and dedication within the ranks of CYM, were invited to participate in this scholarship-based seminar. These participants were selected based on their nomination and support by their local CYM branch, a very competitive screening process, and approval by the organizing committee.
The seminar focused on leadership, marketing and public relations, project management, and motivation in non-profit organizations. Speakers included Genya Kuzmowycz-Blahy, Bohdan Shevchik, Reverend Bohdan Danylo, Oleksa Breslawec, and Ihor Naumenko. These speakers equipped the participants with theories, which would form the base the participants would then transform into practice, not only at the seminar, but back in their communities upon their return. During the two-day seminar, the participants were exposed to thought-provoking discussions, challenging teamwork exercises, lectures by prominent community figures and even a moonlight tour of the nation’s capital. The goal of the seminar was two-fold: to equip the future leaders of CYM and the Ukrainian community with the understanding of true leadership, and help them personally evolve and grow.
Part of the itinerary of the seminar was the tour of the Ukrainian Embassy, which has historic meaning to both the American government from the times of George Washington, as well as to the Ukrainian government currently. The participants had the unique opportunity to meet with a representative of the Ukrainian government, Viktor Nikitiuk, Head of Department for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Ukraine. The participants realized with awe, their rare privilege of being present in such a special setting.
The activities did not end with the theoretical presentations and discussions on Saturday. After a long day of intense work, the group was rewarded to a several hour tour of historic Washington D.C. They were enchanted with the many famous architectural and historic landmarks under the glare of moonlight. Despite their exhaustion from the day’s intensity, the participants were mesmerized by the beauty and imposing history of the city, which hosted the seminar.
Sunday proved to be as enriching as the previous day. The entire group traveled to Washington’s Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family, to attend morning Liturgy. Post this excursion, the group was back at the Ukrainian Embassy, hungry for more knowledge. The Sunday session would focus on extending and applying the principals of leadership and organization learned on the previous day. The participants would be charged with organizing a project from concept building through execution. This hands-on workshop, crafted by Lida Mykytyn, Genya Kuzmowycz-Blahy and Marta Matselioukh, would crystallize the individual facets of concept building, target marketing, public relations, organizing logistic, budgeting and financing, program development, project management, etc. The participants would have to work together, under the pressure of time, to formulate and present their project – a new camp.
Upon completion of an intensive two day program, several themes emerged from the seminar. Through the interactive sessions on both days, the participants underscored the “need to think outside of the box”. They understood the need to change and evolve to become more efficient, productive and alluring, without compromising vision, ideals and missions of organizations. Enthusiasm and motivation were evident throughout the entire seminar. Talent, hope, and promise for the future emanated from these participants.
What a setting for a leadership seminar for the today’s Ukrainian youth and the leaders of the Ukrainian community tomorrow – the offices of a progressive Ukrainian foundation, the building that houses the leaders of the Ukrainian government in the United States, and the city of Washington, the core of leadership in the United States. The participants of CYM’s Youth Leadership Seminar realized the meaning of this setting and left empowered to make a difference in their community and take on the challenge of leading Ukrainian organizations into the future.
CYM extends its sincerest appreciation to the Ukrainian Embassy and to the U.S-Ukraine Foundation for their warmth and hospitality, which was instrumental in making the leadership seminar so successful and memorable. Andriy Bihun, the Director of Youth at CYM and the orchestrator of the Youth Leadership Seminar, concludes that this seminar has met all of its goals and that its continuation is vitally important to the future of CYM and to the Ukrainian community.
For more information about CYM’s Leadership Seminar program, please visit www.cym.org/us or contact your local CYM branch.