101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 31

Today I had a truly remarkable opportunity to present a workshop on leadership at the MY2014 (Maidan Youth 2014) program — a program for Ukrainian youth who are on scholarships to Vancouver to learn English and develop leadership skills in the heat of the conflict and protests in Ukraine.

There, I met a bunch of incredible Ukrainian youth. One in particular stood out to me as a bright, open-minded, and eager to learn and share. Her name is Yasya.

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She just finished her university degree in medicine back in Ukraine. “I want to make people happy”, she said. She hopes that as a doctor she will be able to achieve this. Hearing that this is her primary goal made me happy, so she’s already been successful in that endeavour. She’s about to start a two year practicum in Ukraine. She’s also really interested in physics and might go back to school to learn more about it.

In her free time, her most favourite hobby is hiking. She goes to Crimea every year to hike there. She’s even a hike leader. Her parents took her and her little sister hiking when she was only three years old or younger. Being immersed in nature at a young age has kept her coming back to it.

When the revolution started in Ukraine, her perspective of the country shifted. She didn’t feel as connected to her home. But recently, she has found that the atmosphere has shifted. People are becoming more hopeful, and it has made her more hopeful and positive, too.

“My grandma always asks me where my favourite place in the world would be to live”, Yasya said. “She said she would do everything she could to send me there. But I keep telling her that I want to stay in Ukraine. I want to help the situation and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Side note: One month = complete! It genuinely feels like I just started this project. I’m excited to see what the next months have in store. Thank you to everyone who has been taking the time to follow along via Facebook and beyond. It means more than you know.


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