Washington, D.C., 28-29 March 2015
On March 28-29, 2015, the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA) held its 11th Leadership Seminar at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC. The seminar’s participants, high school juniors and seniors, hailed from various CYM branches of the United States: Peter Jerzewski (Chicago), Roksolana Jerzewski (Chicago), Nataliya Turchmanovych (Chicago), Anastasia Lotoska (Chicago), Michael Popovech (New York), Ivanna Klics (Passaic), Mark Drozd (Cleveland), Anastasia Pelz (Cleveland), Teresa Duda (Yonkers), Matthew Gaschler (Yonkers), Taras Halva (Yonkers), Michael Kuzemczak (Yonkers), and Matthew Tomaszewsky (Yonkers). These participants were nominated by their local CYM branches based on their leadership potential, and then were selected and invited to participate in the seminar by the CYM National Executive committee.
The organizers of this years’ seminar were Marijka Drozd, Nelya Lavrynenko, Yuriy Mykytyn, Andriy Bihun, Lesia Harhaj, and Julie Doboszczak. We were also honored to have the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, Oleksander Motsyk, among our distinguished lecturers.
The Seminar was led by Nelya Lavrenenko, chair of the Educational Council of the World Executive of the Ukrainian Youth Association. A professional leadership trainer, Nelya designed a leadership curriculum that helped the participants develop strong leadership skills that they would be able to use as CYM leaders as well as in their personal lives. She opened the seminar with ice-breakers that allowed the participants to get to know each other better. Each participant was asked to design their personal crest and then explain it to the group. This activity was one of the most humorous, as one part of the crest asked participants to reveal something that they wanted to accomplish and there were quite a few participants who expressed their desire to become a future President of the UAYA National Executive! The participants were then asked to share their goals for participating in the seminar as well as to create guidelines that all the participants would abide by during the seminar. This is one the most important parts of the seminar, as each participant contributed to creating the list and understood that in order to make the seminar successful, they would have to uphold the guidelines they created.
The participants then began discussions on what CYM represents, and how it is viewed by both members and non-members. The goals of these discussions were to provide the participants with a better understanding of how organizational goals are created. Discussions then moved on “what is a leader.” All the participants actively engaged in all the discussions and activities.
Saturday afternoon also gave the participants the ability to sit down with the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, Olexander Motsyk. Ambassador Motsyk spoke candidly to the participants regarding the situation in Ukraine and took questions from the group as well. Yuriy Mykytyn, President of the National Executive Board of the UAYA, presented Ambassador Motsyk with letter that was signed by all the participants. Ambassador Motsyk gladly accepted the letter and agreed to pass it on the Ukrainian government.
On Sunday, the participants celebrated Sunday liturgy with Bishop Ivan Bura at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary. Upon returning to the Embassy, the participants quickly transitioned back into their leadership activities. Yuriy Mykytyn opened the morning session by speaking with the participants about how the National Executive functions. He took questions from the participants and stressed that in order for CYM to be successful, strong leaders and strong leadership is needed and encouraged the participants to take what they had learned from the weekend and continue to apply to the work that they were doing in their branches.
Lesia Harhaj and Yulia Dobosczak facilitated the final session of the seminar which had the participants dividing into groups to plan and event or program that they would like to see included in the CYM program. Participants were responsible for creating a program from scratch, including explaining the mission of the event, setting goals and planning a budget. Each group was then responsible for explaining their program to the group at large and explaining why they thought the program should be something that is included in the CYM program.
The UAYU Board extends its sincerest appreciation to the Ukrainian Embassy for their generous hospitality, as well as the organizers and participants, for making the 11th annual leadership seminar a success.