This story is part of a series of blog entries to mark the 20th anniversary of the Future Leaders Exchange program (FLEX) in Ukraine. FLEX is the U.S. Government’s premier high school exchange program. For more information about U.S. exchanges please click here.
Posted by: Andriy Bryn, Future Leaders Exchange Program 2004-2005, Eldorado High School, Eldorado, Oklahoma
Why do people from my country want to benefit from Ukraine, but don’t want to do anything for its development? Why do people not want to volunteer? I was asking myself these questions again and again when I lived in the United States. I got a chance to study in the U.S. with the FLEX Program. I had my life changed after coming back home, because I already had a goal. I wanted to change the situation in my native country.
In the U.S., I saw how people want to help their own country, how citizens strive to work and sacrifice for their motherland. I was surprised that Ukrainians don’t do the same. I was deeply absorbed with an idea to change this situation, to come back home, to become an active community leader and to work on the development of a democratic society in my homeland. After coming back from the States I became a student of the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv. I also started working at the non-profit organization “Young Power”. In three months, I became a Vice-President and in a year I became the President of this organization. At the same time I started to work at the Youth Department of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Ukraine. Working at an NGO and a political party I got great experience both in NGO management and the party-building processes.
These professional activities were valued by the International Visegrad Fund, which granted me a scholarship to study at one of the best European schools – Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, where I got a Master’s degree in International Economic and Political Studies. Later, I was offered a position of Vice-Chairman of the Lviv regional organization of the political party “Ridna Vitchyzna” (“Native Homeland”) and the Chairman of its Youth Department. I worked on projects not only in Ukraine, but also in Prague, Czech Republic. I initiated a series of presentations about Ukraine at Charles University. At the same time I ran for Lviv regional council of Ukraine (Lvivska oblasna rada). I gained fourth place out of 13 candidates. More than a thousand people voted for me and I think it is a great result for a 23 year-old young leader.
After successfully completing a Master’s Degree in International Economic and Political Studies I was accepted into a PhD program in Management, Finance, Environment, Institutions in the Global Economy at the La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. I became the only foreigner in this PhD program, who received a full fellowship offer from the University. My research topic is “Geoeconomic Priorities of Ukraine in the Global Integration Context: Ways of Realizing a Geo-economic Model of Ukraine.” I hope that the topic of my thesis will help me to combine my research work in Italy with political and community activities in Ukraine.