AD ASTRA PER ASPERA OR OPEN THE WORLD TO CHANGE UKRAINE

ROMAN MAELNYK, YOUNG GENERATION WILL CHANGE UKRAINE PROGRAM COORDINATOR, ON HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE US OPEN WORLD PROGRAM

I’ve spent recently 10 days in the USA, learning democracy, non-governmental sector and local self-governance in the framework of exchange program “Open World”. I will share here several observations concerning the US.

1) PEOPLE is the most amazing thing about the US. They all are driven by concrete incentives which cannot be changed or substituted. I would name personal development, sport, welfare, religion and happiness as the most common values for the most of Americans.

2) The USA is a nation of SPORTS. While in Ukraine or even in Western Europe people are crazy about football, in the US the citizens are fascinated about American football, baseball, basketball, hockey and golf. Kansas-city, where we stayed with a group of Ukrainians for a week, has a great baseball team – the world champions, as well as the decent American football team, a top college basketball team and even a soccer (football) team.

3) The democratic institutions are a little bit different from those, which I learnt in Europe. The USA is a bipartisan country with the strongest system of unwritten political traditions I’ve ever experienced. Many processes are being generated with quite different logic. Another interesting thing is that people easily report each other and are mutual watchdogs on every level of the society and the state.  For example, I was joking with my host family, that our Ukrainian group will create a new political system in the US and make a revolution. Bob, who hosted me at his home, jokingly asked his wife Sharon, who he should report about our unconstitutional activities.

It’s interesting to compare the “Young Generation Will Change Ukraine” (which covers 6 countries of Europe) and the “Open World” programs. They have little in common as the level of autonomy and self-reliance in “Young Generation” is much much higher as the participants are responsible for most of the things starting with: choosing the team members and a country of visit and finishing with booking the tickets. It allows them to feel the full responsibility and satisfaction from their own choices, actions and creativity. In the “Open World” all the things are done by the the supereffective organizers. And once you are chosen to participate in Open World, you can know that everything will be well managed by the offices of the Open World program in Ukraine, Washington and the city of visit. The other side of the coin is the fact that participants don’t interact with the speakers and the institutions during the process of scheduling the study visit, which lowers the effect of engagement into the country of research. That’s why the «Open World» is kind of classic exchange prepared beforehand program, while Young Generation is a research and highly flexible program, where major things and effectiveness relies on the participants.

 

P.S. State flower of Kansas is the sunflower – the symbol of Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Foundation. We think in the Foudation that flower is a sign to become closer with Kansas state and start some sisterhood J