During the Annual Curators Meeting 2015, my dear friend Olexandr, Curator of the Kharkiv Hub, invited me to be a speaker at his EdCamp Ukraine event in April 2016. I have to admit that I accepted without really knowing all the details of the event. The only thing I knew was that it was dedicated to empowering and inspiring teachers, and that alone was enough for me to say “Yes!”
I am so happy today that I was able to experience and report not only the extraordinary success of this initiative but also the warmth, love and hospitality of the Kharkiv Shapers and people. Staying in Ukraine was like rediscovering a part of my family that I had not seen for a long time: pure pleasure and joy!
The EdCamp (un)conference was organized in two days, and several Shapers took active part in the discussions as speakers and moderators: Katya and Daria from Kharkiv, Liliya from Lviv, Yauheni from Minsk, Yori from Amsterdam and myself. We brought new ideas, inspiration and energy to 500 teachers - passionate individuals who strive to raise, prepare and inspire their students to become great citizens - from all over Ukraine.
Among the other contributors, Yori and I gave insights on technology and innovation, new trends and possibilities (from 3D printing to particle accelerators in medicine; from robotics and genomics to the use of fundamental research in society), to highlight what the future will look like so that the teachers, in turn, can convey it to their students.
Finally, the Shapers organized a special celebration for the 5th anniversary of our beautiful Community, involving teachers and young students and making us realize, once again, how powerful this incredible Community can be.
On the day after the conference, the wonderful Jane and Katya brought Yori and myself to visit the Bogodukhiv Orphanage for mentally and physically disabled children outside Kharkiv. There Yori shared his moving and inspiring story to show them how, even in the most adverse conditions, you should keep fighting for your dreams and what you think you deserve from life, and never give up.
"You have to change what you cannot accept, you have to accept what you cannot change, but is only you that has to decide what to accept in your life"
Even now, while writing, I get goose bumps and feel the strong emotions evoked by his powerful story.
Then we returned to Kharkiv, where we met young people with different types of disabilities, members of the Charitable Foundation called “Hesed Shaare-Tikvah” and some of them participants of the Kharkiv city public organization “Creavita”. The conversation that started after Yori's presentation was very touching and just the expressions on the faces of the audience - of excitement, hope and joy - were enough to make the whole day unforgettable.
Finally we also had a brainstorming meeting with the Livelihood Development Programme team and we ended the day with the lovely company of Katya’s family.
I left Ukraine with an intense feeling of gratitude for these beautiful people, with big hearts and shining eyes, fully committed towards their community, who made me feel part of their family and always at home. Dyakuyu!
This article is a personal reflection of the author, Giovanni Porcellana, Global Shaper at Geneva Hub