‘Voices of Ukraine’ chronicles inspiring stories of 18 teenagers
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)