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Svitlana Kominko (Vancouver)
This summer Ukrainians of Vancouver will be welcoming a group of young students from Ukraine who will be participating in a summer program and taking ESL classes at the Canadian College of English Language. This program is organized by O.W.L.Ukrainian Canadian Education and Charity Trust in response to the tragic revolutionary events of winter 2013/14 that changed Ukraine and Ukrainians forever.
Among our participants are children whose fathers were shot by snipers at Maidan and those whose fathers survived after being shot or burned, young activists that got severe physical injuries, and orphans. Tragic events left scars in the hearts of many people in Ukraine and abroad, but especially those young students that matured just in a few months. As we interviewed them on skype and read their motivation letters, we were impressed by the love they have for Ukraine.
They inspired us even more with their fearless approach to life and the willingness to risk their lives for the better future of Ukraine. We hope that their participation in this summer program will help them to improve their English, to meet new friends, and to experience our multicultural and democratic Canadian environment.
We hope that our program would help them to recover after their psychological traumas, as they are welcomed by their homestay families in Vancouver and explore our beautiful city in their free time. As we prepare our program for them we still rely on your help. Participation of each student has financial restrictions and we are still raising money towards their airfare, health insurance, public transit expenses, and meals.
We now invite you to meet our finalists that were selected for the summer program in Vancouver.
My name is Mariya Ilkiv. Coming from Lviv, one of the most pro-Ukrainian cities in Ukraine, I couldn’t stay out of the situation that occurred in the late November 2013 in my home country, the situation that is known as Maidan all over the world. I didn’t spent much time in Kyiv as I am a third-year history student in Lviv, but I was an active participant in Lviv trying to raise medical supplies and send them to Kyiv. I think that I didn’t do much myself for Ukraine, but my father Bogdan did. He went to Kyiv a couple of times and belonged to Striy Sotnya (a small self-organized group for protection). My father went to Kyiv for the last time on February 19th as people there needed more support fighting against Berkut, special police forces. Unfortunately, that was the last trip for my dad. He was shot by sniper the following day protecting Ukraine and its future.
Ukraine needs a lot of support right now, but without good education it will be really hard to rebuild this beautiful country. I hope that I will be given a chance to study English in Vancouver during this summer because knowledge of English will be a great addition to my desire to change Ukraine for better.
Hello! My name is Leonid Opanasyuk and I’m from Zhytomyr, central Ukraine. I’m currently studying at Zhytomyr National University. I’m coming from a large family and as soon as there was a chance to change Ukraine and our lives for better, my family joined the national revolution known as Maidan. My father Valerii understood that the only way to change Ukraine was by overthrowing the corrupted government, so most of his time during November and February he spent in Kyiv. He truly believed in Ukraine and its people and died for his country… I wasn’t in Kyiv myself, but took part in local protests.
I really wanted to become a professional track and field athlete, but because of health conditions, I had to change my mind and now I’m trying to get a diploma in communications and computer science. I understand the importance of knowledge of foreign languages. But because of the limited financial resources of my family I never had a chance of learning those well. A couple of weeks in the language school in Vancouver would make a great difference for me. I really hope that you can support me and give this opportunity. That would be a life-changing experience for me.
Funeral in Rivne: video
Hi there! I’m Volodymyr Tomashchuk and I’m from Kyiv, Ukraine! As a second-year media and communication student, I had to be on Maidan when Ukrainian history was written. It was my professional duty to record every moment of the revolution that shook not only Ukraine but the whole world. I tried to be on Maidan as often as I took and the night of December 1 wasn’t an exception. Many bruises, serious head injury, broken camera…. That’s what I paid for caring and doing my duty that night. But if it’s what it takes to be a responsible citizen I’m ready to pay the same prize again.
Ability to speak English is essential for any journalist. This skill will help me to be better as a journalist and be able to present the accurate information about Ukraine to international audience. I’m a hardworking person, and I will use that time in Vancouver very efficient not only improving the language but also looking for the inspiration for my future articles.
I really appreciate your time reading my article here. I’m Petro Zhovtovskyy and I just want to tell you a small part of myself and what happened to me during Maidan. I joined the revolution on January 22 as a member of Volun Sotnya. I’m very proud to be a member of this group as people here are not afraid of death, but they care and love Ukraine to death. Probably that’s why many people in my group were killed or seriously hurt during the revolution. During February 18 and 19, my friend and I were on Hrushevskyy Street protecting our motherland. I tried to let my friends know that there was a sniper shooting at us, when somebody shot me at the head. I lost my eye that day, but I’m happy that doctors managed to safe the other so that I’m still able to see and observe changes in my Ukraine. That’s just a small part of what happened to me. But the thing is that it is not over yet, neither for me, nor for Ukraine. There’re so many things that can be done and improved here. I’m hoping that the summer in Vancouver will give me some inspiration and ideas about how to change Ukraine for better.
Hi, my name is Victoria Rudyk and I’m from Vinnytsya. Because I’m still very young, I didn’t participate in Maidan myself, but my father did. His name is Mykola and he used to be a professional cross-country athlete and even competed for Ukrainian team for a few years. He traveled around the world a lot and had a chance to compare the lifestyles in different parts of the world. But he is a true patriot and never even thought of moving to another country. He believes that Ukraine is a beautiful country with a bright future but one disadvantage – its government. So as soon as there was an opportunity to protest against the government, he went to Kyiv to join the Maidan. He spent three months there until February 19, when he was shot in the head. The injury was that serious that Ukrainian neurosurgeons weren’t able to perform the surgery, but Polish doctors saved my father’s life. As well as my father I believe in the bright future of Ukraine and I’m ready to work hard to make it happen. I think that the knowledge of English and a summer in Vancouver would make me a wider person and I would really appreciate your support. Thank you.
Hi! My name is Anastasiya Korniyko. My mom and I live near Kyiv in a small town of Brovary. My father left us when I was only three and since then my mom and I had to learn how to survive on our own. My mother’s job, a pediatrician, requires her to help others and save their lives so she joined a medical service of Maidan. It was really hard for me to stay at home knowing that my mom is on the streets where people are killed every second and not be able to reach her. I can just imagine how hard it was for her to decide who was going to receive medical help first and who would have to suffer. She was there on Maidan , during every fight, on Instutytska, Bankova, at Michael’s Cathedral trying to save people and risking her own live. Because she spent all of her time on Maidan she lost a job as a pediatrician in the local hospital, so I understand that this is a hard time for my family and this scholarship is a great way for me as a senior in the high school to receive an international education at least for a couple of weeks.
Hello everybody! My name is Dmytro Salak and I’m twenty years old. I’m the studying psychology at Ternopil National Pedagogic University because I always wanted to understand how people think and what drives them in their decision-making. I grew up in a big family with two younger siblings. The sad part of my story is that my mother died when I was just 15 and my father left my brother, sister and me shortly after the funeral. My grandmother Nataliya was taking care of us, but now since I’m old enough and it’s hard for my granny to take care of us, I’m responsible for my family. Job market is really competitive these days and even with a good education and high grades it’s really hard to get a job in the area of the interest. However, international experience and knowledge of foreign languages would make me more competitive on the job market and help me to support my family.
That’s my family:
Hi, I am Dmytro Tsarok! I am 20 years old and I am from Vasylkiv, which is not far from Kyiv. When difficult time came to Ukraine and Maidan started, we supported maidaners with all our possibilities. My father became maidaner himself. He spent lots of time there. They were fighting for real independence and against criminal corrupted government. He was shot by 3 bullets from very close distance. It happened on 20th of February. Since then we are mourning him…
One of my dreams is to speak different languages and visit Canada. This is great possibility for me to study English, meet new people from different countries, learn something good from them and bring it back to Ukraine.
Hi! My name is Iaroslava and I’m from the capital of Ukraine. As a responsible citizen and just a caring person I couldn’t stay away from what was happening on the streets of Kyiv. Because I’m the fourth year medical student, I joined medical service at the Maidan. I wasn’t the only one from my family who took an active part in the revolution. My whole family was involved. At the some points everyone from my family were wounded, but my mother was the most as the bomb exploded right on her back. If she wasn’t wearing a backpack, the love to her country would cost her a life.
I want to continue my education after graduation from medical academy and will try to do that mostly on my own, because I understand that Ukraine needs well-qualified workers. As most researches are published in English, I understand that language proficiency is essential if I want to continue my education and make even a small change to Ukraine.
Hello. I’m Nestor, a third-year law student from Lviv. This winter was a hard one not only for me, but for every Ukrainian living in Ukraine and outside of it. By despite difficulties, this winter changed the history of my country a lot. I spent most of my time in Kyiv starting in November and till late February. Luckily I was hurt during that bloody November night when many peaceful students were hurt, but I wasn’t that lucky February. I was captured by Berkut, beaten and seriously hurt. One of the results of my traumas was 12 mm aneurism. In order to avoid health problems in the future I spent many days in the hospital and rehabilitation centers. I truly hope and believe that everything that was done by everyone during this harsh winter wasn’t useless and will make Ukraine a great country to live in.
Hello. My name is Pylyp. I’m 20 years old and studying in Kyiv to become a video producer. Maidan became not only a hope for a better future for most of the Ukrainians, but became the force that united east and west, north and south. For me, as a creative personality, it is also a source of inspiration. I live in Kyiv so I had an unlimited numbers of opportunities to be there and observe the formation of a new nation, of a strong Ukrainian spirit. I spent a lot of my time there, but fortunately wasn’t wounded. However, my stepfather was seriously hurt on February 18. When people were asking for help, he couldn’t stay at home. So, he took a jacket and went to the city center where everything was happening. In order to protect peaceful demonstrates that night, he along with many other brave people, formed a line to stop police from the attack. At one moment he realized that he was shot at the abdominal. The bullet crushed his pelvic bones and broke the spinal cord. He was sent to the emergency where three operations were performed. But because the trauma was really serious, he was sent to Israel for treatment and rehabilitation.
Hi, my name is Tanya and I’m seventeen years old. I’m coming from the small town in Ternopil region called Terebovlya. Western Ukraine is known as really patriotic part of the country. So, many people from these areas couldn’t stay at homes while the history was written in Kyiv. My father Ivan is not an exception. His two friends and he went to Kyiv during the bloodiest week. They were staying in the tent that night when somebody threw the bomb inside the tent and it exploded. My father and his friend got serious burns all over their bodies. My dad’s face, eyes, arms and many internal organs along with the respiratory system were burnt. His conditions were critical and he was sent to Poland for treatment and rehabilitation.
For me, as a high school student who is going to graduate this year and international experience and language practice would be a great knowledge.
That’s an article from Polish newspaper about my father and two other men who were with him in the same tent that night:
Rostyslav Kuz and Taras Martsyniv
Hello. We’re Rostyslav and Taras and we’re from Terebovlya. It’s a small city and people know each other pretty well here. So, when it came to going to Kyiv in order to support and protect our motherland, we didn’t wait a second, but packed out stuff and hit the road. We arrived to Kyiv during probably the bloodies week in modern Ukrainian history. Every person on Maidan had a different goal, but we were united with the strongest feeling – the feeling of love towards our country. We and Ivan Bukata were staying in our tent during February 18, when the bomb was thrown in it. All we can remember is the fire and the smoke. Thankfully we managed to get out of the burning tent, but we weren’t OK. We received first and second degrees burns of external organs and our internal organs were burnt as well. We were sent to Poland where many surgeries where performed and rehabilitation process started. Even though we have the scars that will remind us about that winter for the rest of our lives, but they will also remind us to never give up and believe for a better future.
There’s a couple of pictures from the hospital:
I was born and raised in a small town where there were no opportunities for self-realization. I lived in a boarding school for orphans where I saw perfectly that my probable future – is alcoholism, drug addiction, and unemployment. That’s why I decided for myself that no matter what I have to become successful. I graduated with honors from high school and entered the History Department of the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University. While studying there, I began to engage in journalism, social activities, acted as an expert on youth policy for several national NGOs. The problem of orphans and their support system help was close to me, because I went through the same route myself.
During Maidan events all young people are forced to reflect on their place in Ukraine and what we should do. Night patrolling, participating in demonstrations, financial support – is the small contribution that I made to the common cause – the rebirth of Ukraine. I feel great happiness that I live in Ukraine in times of change, and have the opportunity to be involved in its development. I also need to improve myself. That’s why I decided to apply for a scholarship to study in Canada. The old democratic tradition , quality of life, mentality, education, experience, charities, NGOs, self-organization of the population who are in Canada will be extremely useful not only for me but also for Ukraine, where I want to introduce new experience.
Rostyslav is the author of the book From Boarding School to Success.