Just Folk Songs and Borsch?
Ukrainian exchange student in USA with traditional folk dress

Viktoriia drops knowledge around town

International Education Week was a crazy week for me—I did 10 presentations about my country! In the beginning, I didn't think it would be that energy-consuming, but when I saw that my 20-minute planned presentations were turning into an hour, I understood it is not that easy! But I can say for sure that it was worth it! Seeing people interested in my homeland, praising Ukrainian food, drawing little Ukrainian stickers, and asking me to send them my presentation (so they could learn more on their own) made me so proud!

Eight of my presentations were in different classes in my school, one was in a school club, and another one was in my town's library! Around 300 people heard my presentation, which is kind of crazy to me. It was a great pleasure for me to represent Ukraine, educate others, and get rid of stereotypes about my country. I feel good knowing those 300 people, when hearing the word Ukraine, would say, "Oh yes, I know about this country!"

I feel good knowing those 300 people, when hearing the word Ukraine, would say, 'Oh yes, I know about this country!'

In my presentation, I covered a lot of information, starting with national symbols, history, and mentality, and ending with artists, famous Ukrainians, and achievements! It was important to me to show not the stereotypical side of Ukraine—that it is not only folk songs and borsch, but also so much more.

Of course, I also wore my national clothes and had some national flags with me. In addition to my presentation, I brought books about Ukraine in English and books with artwork by Ukrainian artist Mariia Prymachenko.

To make good memories, I brought Ukrainian candies and bracelets! Surprisingly to me, many of the students loved the candy, took the bracelets, and now wear them pretty often. A lot of students wondered at how Ukrainians love freedom and independence, and how we've been fighting for years. A line from our anthem, "Our enemies will vanish like dew in the sun," took a special place in the hearts of many as well. 

I have so much more planned. I am planning to go to different types of places to represent Ukraine. People regularly say to me that they are sad they did not get to see the presentation. So I will correct that soon! But what I know for now—IEW was a success...especially when I still get good words from others about it after the week is over!

—Viktoriia (FLEX, Ukraine), hosted by the Copps family (IN)