In the fall 2022, 20 Ukrainian undergraduate students received the Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship to study at US higher education institutions. Cohort I was already in the middle of their studies when receiving the award, while Cohort II had been applying from Ukraine, and other countries they were forced to move following the Russian invasion.
The GDAS Cohort I Scholars
The GDAS recipients have a challenging task in front of them – not only to gain new knowledge and skills in the scope of their academic specialties for the future strengthening of Ukraine but also to act as ambassadors for Ukraine and democracy in the US. During the 2022-2023 academic year, across 16 American universities, they have been sharing their stories with peers, professors, and local community representatives about the current situation in Ukraine and the commitment of Ukrainians to stand up for their land and global democracy.
The GDAS Cohort II Scholars
The ambassadors fulfill their GDAS mission through participation and conversations during their classes, informal talks with their peers, and raising awareness events on their campuses or local communities.
In the scope of the program, the GDAS Ambassadors have organized around 20 events aimed at sharing the truth about the war against Ukraine, sharing more about its historical preconditions and the potential consequences for the global democratic order, Ukrainian history, traditions, and culture. The ambassadors delivered workshops on painting pysanky (painting Easter eggs), candle-making, and cooking borshch; initiated movie nights; displayed Ukraine-at-war photo exhibitions; organized roundtables, and panel discussions, and raised awareness through lectures on democracy in Ukraine; some even held a jazz concert and a poetry evening.
Ostap Stefak, Cohort I Scholar, with a group of students participating in the meeting
with Col. Alexander Vindman at Harvard University. Photo provided by Ostap Stefak.
Poetry Readings at the University of Iowa, organized by Cohort I Scholar Oksana Hirchak. Photo provided by Oksana Hirchak.
Svitlana Kukharuk, Cohort II Scholar at the University of Connecticut, at the Stories from Ukraine Panel Discussion. Photo provided by Svitlana Kukharuk.
By initiating and organizing these events, scholars attempt to foster dialogue around democracy, its fragility, and the importance of standing up against any threats to it.
Aside from academic and awareness-raising activities, in the scope of the GDAS Program, the ambassadors have an opportunity to meet and talk with global fighters for democracy and with successful actors across fields who are strong supporters of Ukraine and proactive in creating educational opportunities for Ukrainian students.
Regardless that academic year is ending, the ambassadors continue to share about Ukraine in their communities and remind their peers that the war in Ukraine is ongoing. To resist, Ukraine needs more support, and devoted hard work on the frontline and all home fronts.
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.