This week, 18 Ukrainian high school students arrived in the Twin Cities to begin a five-week leadership development program that may one day assist them in rebuilding their war-torn country as Russian forces continued to assault it.
Oleksandra “Sasha” Masokha, 16, of Boryspil, said she hopes the trip, sponsored by the St. Louis Park-based Global Synergy Group, will “advance myself in the direction of organizational skills, improve the level of my English, and get many enjoyable experiences” at a Roseville Area Optimists Club lunch on Friday, where the group made their first public appearance in Minnesota.
The initiative offers Oksana “Ksyusha” Lohvineko, 16, of Kharkiv, an opportunity to escape the ongoing dangers to her life and the safety of her family and friends.
She referred to her hometown as “right there” where the fighting was. “My family was greatly impacted.”
She currently resides in Lviv with a sibling while her mother and father continue to reside in Kharkiv. She said that while some citizens of that city lost their houses and relocated to other towns and nations, others were slain there.
Because of this, Lohvineko stated, “we appreciate any assistance; we are really thankful for it.
To start new initiatives and share her experiences with friends and students at school, she is keen to learn about American government, education, organizations, and enterprises. It’s going to be enjoyable.
The Global Synergy Group is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2012 with the goal of fostering civic and cultural interactions between American businesses and other countries. Five adult and youth exchanges have been sponsored by it. Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has moved its attention to helping that nation in need.
Irina Fursman, a co-founder of the youth program, stated during the luncheon that it aims to develop leaders who “can push Ukraine to the next level.” She aspires for the students to contribute to “the design of a new democracy.”
Denys Lakyziuk, 16, of Boryspil, who serves as the vice president of a student organization, is already a leader at home. However, he hopes to create new programs and talents “with the assistance of the acquired experience and information” from the journey.
He remarked that this was a significant departure from his early-war experiences, when “I assisted digging trenches and built dugouts and shelters” for Ukrainian forces.
The children, who range in age from 13 to 18, will be introduced to the educational systems of Minnesota during their first week in the state, according to Fursman. With assistance from authorities in Hopkins, Bloomington, and Minneapolis, the second week will concentrate on how municipal governments operate.
After that, students will examine cultural institutions, Native American history, and the experiences of immigrants in the state. They will then look at the state’s volunteer programs. Finally, business and entrepreneurial experts from some of the biggest companies in the state will teach them about these topics.
The group will also experience Minnesotan culture by going to Vikings and Twins games and the State Fair. While in Minnesota, the students reside with host families.