By Lida Mykytyn-Voronka
The imposing historic Georgetown mansion, which is home to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., set the tone for the annual Youth Leadership Seminar, organized by the Ukrainian American Youth Association (“CYM”), as the participants began their two-day intensive training. 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. Participants attended from geographically dispersed branches, such as Palatine, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Passaic, Yonkers and Philadelphia. The invited participants were: Matviy Sklaski, Chrystyna Melnyk, Svitlana Mykulynska, Dana Kurylyk, Anastasia Koval, Marta Kotsubaeva, Anna-Maria Bagan, Slomiya Chuyko, Petro Chudolij, Marusia Surmachevska, Antonina Luszczak, Natalka Midzak, and Alex Drobot.
The seminar, which was held at the Ukrainian Embassy between April 20-22, 2012, focused on leadership, marketing and public relations, project management, and motivation in non-profit organizations. These topics, presented in experiential sessions, equipped the participants with first-hand exposure and formed the base the participants will then transform into practice, not only at the seminar, but back in their communities, upon their return. The architect of the program was Nelya Lavrynenko, head of Vichovna Rada of the World Executive of the Ukrainian Youth Association, who has a certificate degree in leadership training. During the two-day seminar, participants were exposed to thought-provoking discussions, challenging teamwork exercises and even a moonlight tour of the nation’s capital. The goal of the seminar was twofold: to equip the future leaders of CYM and the Ukrainian community with the understanding of true leadership, and to help them personally evolve and grow.
The itinerary of the seminar included a tour of the Ukrainian Embassy, which has a deep historic meaning to both the American government from the times of George Washington, and to the Ukrainian government currently. The participants had the unique opportunity to meet with a representative of the Ukrainian government, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Olexander Motsyk. The group was also attended to during its stay at the Embassy by the Second Secretary and Cultural Attache', Oresta Starak. The participants realized with awe their rare privilege of being present in such a special setting.
The activities did not end with discussions on Saturday. After a long day of intense work, the group was rewarded with a several hour tour of historic Washington D.C. Even the threat of rain did not diminish the enjoyment of getting to know the city more intimately. They were enchanted with visiting 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.
The Sunday session focused on extending and applying the principals of leadership and organization learned on the current and previous days. The participants were charged with organizing a project from concept building through execution. This hands-on workshop, crafted by Lida Mykytyn-Voronka, Genya Kuzmowycz-Blahy and Mariyka Drozd, 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. The participants came to a conclusion that a good CYM leader should personify the following attributes: honest, approachable, patriotic, patient, reliable, confident and Christian. They understood the need to 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 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 for their warmth and incredible hospitality, which was instrumental in making the leadership seminar so successful and memorable. A special appreciation is due to Cultural Attache', Oresta Starak.