On April 27-28, 2023, two cohorts of the Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship Scholars convened in New York to participate in the first GDAS in-person meeting.
On the first day of the event, the scholars had a unique opportunity to attend the RDI: Renew Democracy Initiative Heroes of Democracy Gala honoring Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Rwandan Dissident Carine Kanimba, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, and Philanthropist Howard Buffett.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, represented the Foreign Minister at the Gala and accepted the Award on the Foreign Minister’s behalf.
The GDAS scholars had a сhance to network with the RDI Gala invitees, connect with influencers and democracy defenders and attend the Heroes of Democracy Awards ceremony.
The GDAS Scholars with Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN, at the RDI Heroes of Democracy Gala. Photo provided by the RDI.
On the second day of the conference, the GDAS scholars started off with an in-person meeting with the two co-chairs of the program, Colonel Alexander Vindman and Garry Kasparov. Some scholars delivered detailed presentations on the initiatives, activities, and events they ran on campus. They shared photos, insights, and learnings from the conversations on democracy, its fragility, and the war against Ukraine with their American peers on campus.
The GDAS scholars watch the presentations created by their peers. Photo by Jaclyn Licht
Continuing the program, students had the chance to visit the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York where they met with the Ukrainian Consul General, Mr. Oleksii Holubov, and Mr. Andrij Dobriansky, Director of Communications and Media for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. During the meeting, students learned more about the Consulate, and Ukrainian diaspora’s work, and how they can empower their roles as ambassadors in their daily life on-campus.
The GDAS Scholars at the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York. Photo by Jaclyn Licht
Following the visit to the Ukrainian Consulate, the Ambassadors were invited for a closed meeting with the US Mission to the UN. They had an opportunity to talk to the representatives of the mission who are working on the Ukraine case. A tour at the UN concluded the formal programming for the GDAS scholars.
The GDAS Scholars at the UN. Photo by Jaclyn Licht
“Thanks to the in-person meeting in New York and all the events we attended during these active few days, I have changed my mind about some things. In particular, I am very grateful for the opportunity to personally communicate with representatives of the US mission to the United Nations, as well as to visit the Consulate of Ukraine in New York and to talk to the Ukrainian Consul General and Director of Communications and Media for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. These two meetings, followed by a tour of the UN, made me realize that the efforts of diplomats from both Ukraine and other countries who support Ukraine in defending the country and global democracy in the war against Russia are invaluable, and I had not even known the scale of them. The world realizes that Ukraine is now defending democratic values. We often see only the peak of the iceberg, but we do not realize how much work is behind every resolution, official statement and support of different countries.”
Svitlana Kukharuk, Cohort II GDAS Scholar
Photo by Jaclyn Licht
“Networking with like-minded individuals who share a passion for democracy provided me a precious opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences, and perspectives.”
Mariia Tkach, Cohort I Scholar
Photo provided by Mariia Tkach
“I think the main conclusion will be that it is important to continue working on oneself and improving one’s skills. I was happy to see not only successful people, but also individuals who have achieved results in their field and now, through their social capital, raise important issues, including those relevant to my country. This is very motivating and energizing.”
Mykola Bondarenko, Cohort II Scholar
Photo by Jaclyn Licht
The Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship for Ukrainian Scholars is administered by the Institute of International Education. The GDAS Program aims to create opportunitites for Ukrainian undergraduate students to continue their education at American higher education institutions, educate global peers on the fragility and importance of democracy, and inspire the world to stay engaged.