Svitlana Buko’97
Sevastopol, Ukraine/Riverside, CA
svitlana [dot] buko [at] gmail [dot] com

Two generations of FLEX alumni (FLEX 97 and FLEX 2007) came together for a Leadership Training of Trainers (TOT) at ACCESS Summer Camp in Crimea, 19-21 June 2010.  Two senior FLEX alumni Svitlana Buko’97 (Ph.D) and Iryna Kalynychenko’97 (MPA, Muskie’05) designed a set of TOT workshops on “Youth leadership: project management” and trained a group of 10 junior FLEX alumni from different regions of Ukraine in teaching community leadership to 120 high school students from Sevastopol and Luhansk  at an ACCESS camp site in Crimea.

Overall, the main purpose of the summer camp project was to leverage alumni of various exchange programs, including FLEX, Open World, TEA and PIE as well as Peace Corps volunteers in Crimea and English Language Fellows, in order to enhance the summer component of two English ACCESS Microscholarship programs.   These programs are supported by US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section:

During five workshop meetings of fellow alumni, junior FLEXes developed their leadership and organization skills, and honed their teaching/training methods. The task of senior alumni was to provide the junior counterparts with a guide for planning,  conducting and evaluating a series of short-term training sessions on leadership, using their U.S. experience,  intercultural communication skills, competence to understand and facilitate learning of others and the skill to direct one’s own learning through community leadership projects. Camp TOT served as a platform for sharing tradition of teaching leadership in Ukraine among multiple generations of FLEX alumni.

Camp TOT proved that there is a great value in the joint projects of senior and junior FLEX alumni. Senior Alumni can use their expertise to provide the younger generation of alumni with valuable advice and insights on leadership, education and career patterns. Connecting junior alumni with senior alumni can help enhance community and professional experience. Every senior FLEX alumna/us who has the competences and motivation to lead, mentor, and coordinate within joint projects, strengthens the confidence of junior alumni and inspires them for a vision of a positive future in their home country.  Joint projects with a wide variety of professionals who carry forward the heart and the mission of the FLEX program through the decades enriches everyone’s learning experience and strengthens the multi-generational alumni network.

“When you think about “FLEX alumni” – you usually visualize “youth”. However, the program has been out there for more than 15 years. I am 30 years old, married, with Ph.D in Cross-cultural management and nine years of U.S. business expertise. I am still a FLEX alumna and I carry forward the heart and the mission of the FLEX program through the decades. Reconnecting with junior fellow alumni via the TOT was a terrific experience. My approach was twofold: on one hand, it was a professional development training on project management for junior FLEXes, and on the other hand, it was a good opportunity for me to get to know a younger generations of alumni and for them to visualize a possible future in Ukraine through the lens of my educational and professional experience. We are almost a decade apart, but we still have a lot in common.”

FLEX Trainees: Ivanna Koziy ’09 (Bila Tserkva), Volodymyr Pavlov ’08 (Donetsk), Irina Ogay ’04 (Sevastopol), Oleksandra Tsymbal ’04 (Kharkiv), Volodymyr Kobrin ’07 (Lutsk), Dariya Homylyayeva ’07 (Zaporizhzhia), Olena Chemrat ’08 (Sevastopol)