‘Voices of Ukraine’ chron­i­cles in­spir­ing sto­ries of 18 teenagers

Kyiv Post - - National - BY OKSANA LYACHYNSKA [email protected] Some of the 18 Ukrainian teenagers fea­tured in "Voices of Ukraine" will present their sto­ries at the Dec. 11 Tiger Con­fer­ence at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Kyiv. See tiger.kyivpost.com for de­tails.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: The Kyiv Post helped pro­duce the 125-page book “Voices of Ukraine,” a cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity project in part­ner­ship with Porsche Ukraine. It con­sists of in­ter­views with 18 tal­ented teenagers across Ukraine who talk about their lives, hopes and dreams. The book was writ­ten by Oksana Lyachynska, a free­lance jour­nal­ist and Kyiv Post staff writer from 2008-2013. Born in the early 2000s, they were still in their strollers dur­ing the 2004 Or­ange Rev­o­lu­tion that over­turned a rigged elec­tion and put Vik­tor Yushchenko in power.

Amid t he EuroMaidan Rev­o­lu­tion, which drove Vik­tor Yanukovych from power a decade later, they were al­ready at their school desks.

Now, al­most five years later, they can in­vent a “smart” green­house or a “smart” dump­ster, win a NASA con­test or in­tro­duce bio-re­cy­cling of poly­eth­yl­ene.

Meet Ukrainian teenagers fea­tured in a book that was pub­lished re­cently by the Kyiv Post in part­ner­ship with Porsche Ukraine.

“Voices of Ukraine” in­cludes 18 in­ter­views with young peo­ple un­der age 18 from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try. They an­swer ques­tions about what they like to do most, how they see them­selves in the fu­ture and what their vi­sions are for Ukraine and the rest of the world.

“They speak, as if they pre­dict the new fu­ture for this coun­try and this planet, as when we care about those around us we are def­i­nitely a part of some­thing big­ger,” wrote ra­dio host and poet Miriam Drag­ina, who was a ju­ror with Taras Prokopy­shyn, CEO of The Ukraini­ans, an on­line mag­a­zine.

They have read more than 30 sto­ries and picked the best 18 of them.

Among those who made it into the book was 17-year-old sci­en­tist Kateryna Malk­ina from Mar­i­upol, the Azov Sea port city of 500,000 peo­ple lo­cated 800 kilo­me­ters south­east of Kyiv.

“I am very grate­ful for such an op­por­tu­nity to leave a trace in his­tory! This is an in­cred­i­ble boost to work!” Malk­ina emailed from Canada, where she stud­ies now.

Malk­ina rep­re­sented Ukraine on the Ge­nius Olympiad in the US this year. In 2017 she won a gold medal at the MOSTRATEC In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Fair in Brazil. She has dis­cov­ered that liv­ing or­gan­isms such as dark­ling bee­tle lar­vae can eat poly­eth­yl­ene bags. Her data shows that 100 lar­vae can di­gest 1.7 gram of polyethyene a day, which is more than a small dis­pos­able plas­tic bag. She de­vel­oped an in­stal­la­tion cost­ing only $90 that can process 100 kilo­grams of poly­eth­yl­ene. Her in­ven­tion gives hope that the prob­lem of re­cy­cling plas­tic will be solved in the near fu­ture.

Ro­man Fede­vych from Lviv no­ticed that strong wind of­ten breaks the win­dows in his grand­fa­ther’s green­house.

With his teacher, Fede­vych came up with a model of a “smart” green­house, which can au­to­mat­i­cally close the win­dow if the wind is too strong or can open it if the green­house needs ven­ti­la­tion. His model, based on the Ar­duino Uno pro­ces­sor, took fourth place in the ro­bot­ics and in­tel­li­gent ma­chines cat­e­gory at the In­tel Techno Ukraine con­test in 2017.

“This green­house can be ad­justed for small house­holds and large farms,” said the 15-year-old. “The prin­ci­ple is the same, only the size dif­fers.”

Yeliza­veta Hodovikova, 16, was deal­ing with a prob­lem of garbage col­lec­tion in Kyiv. She in­vented a “smart” dump­ster staffed with sen­sors which sends data to the server when the

dump­ster is full. This data can be used to build routes for the garbage trucks in or­der that the garbage is col­lected as soon as the con­tain­ers are full.

Misha Mykolyshyn was only 13 when he took part in a soft­ware de­vel­op­ment con­test for adults for the first time. He pre­sented a grade book called GradeGrade and got a stand­ing ova­tion there. Few years later he par­tic­i­pated in NASA In­ter­na­tional Space Apps Chal­lenge in Kyiv. In 24 hours his team de­vel­oped a project for a dic­tionary of the earth called Ter­mWorm and won in the peo­ple’s choice cat­e­gory.

Mykolyshyn as well as other teenagers fea­tured in the book dream that one day they will make not only a project but a real prod­uct that will be use­ful for peo­ple.

The idea to give a pub­lic voice to the young gen­er­a­tion of tal­ented Ukraini­ans be­longs to Aus­trian Josef Graf, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Porsche Ukraine, an of­fi­cial im­porter of Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Seat brands. He has been liv­ing in Ukraine with his wife Ruth for the last 11 years.

“I started think­ing about such kind of project in mid­dle 2016 when we had al­ready few years of prob­lem­atic sit­u­a­tion in the east of Ukraine and Crimea,” Graf said. “With busi­ness peo­ple in my sphere we al­ways dis- cussed bad things prac­ti­cally such as war, peo­ple dy­ing, low wealth and oth­ers. In a cer­tain mo­ment I started re­al­iz­ing that this is not a pos­i­tive ap­proach for the fu­ture. One day at least we have to turn around the ten­dency and to go into a pros­per­ous and pos­i­tive fu­ture.”

Graf be­lieves that it is young gen­er­a­tion of Ukraini­ans who will bring pos­i­tive changes into the coun­try. He hopes that such a book will mo­ti­vate them to never lose their hearts.

“The se­cret for suc­cess in the long run is to go for your dreams and to keep on hav­ing vi­sions,” Graf said. “Look for the small things in life and take them for in­spi­ra­tion. Look for the small prob­lems and solve them. Look for col­leagues, for friends, for fam­ily mem­bers with whom you can share this in­spi­ra­tion. Talk about your vi­sions, it makes them stronger. Share them, this makes them very strong. And re­al­ize them, this makes them be­come true.”

The bilin­gual book Voices of Ukraine, pub­lished in both English and Ukrainian, will be pre­sented at the Kyiv Post Tiger Con­fer­ence on Dec. 11. Ev­ery vis­i­tor will be able to take a free copy.

Oksana Lyachynska is a free­lance jour­nal­ist and a Kyiv Post for­mer staff writer. She can be reached at oksana. [email protected]

The Kyiv Post has pub­lished "Voices of Ukraine," a book com­mi­sioned by Porsche Ukraine and writ­ten by for­mer Kyiv Post re­porter Oksana Lyachynska.

Josef Graf, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Porsche Ukraine, speaks in his Kyiv of­fice on Nov. 26, 2018. (Volodymyr Petrov)

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