Tag archives for alumni

Språkcafé in Ukraine

Ukraine now has an establihed Swedish Langugae Club. Co-founder Anastasiya Borenkova has shared her experience with us, telling us the story of how everything started.

“The idea came to our mind 2 years ago. Me and the other two founders, Alina and Anna, did not know each other by that time but we shared a big passion for Sweden. After a year of amazing volunteer experience in Sweden, Alina came back to Ukraine and extremely missed “Swedishness” and Swedish language. She started looking for people who would like to meet and speak Swedish in Kyiv. Through Couchsurfing she found Anna who never learnt Swedish but frequently visited her friends in Sweden, travelled around Sweden and simply fell in love with the country. They started weekly Swedish speaking meetings, being one of the few enthusiasts looking for ways how to involve more Swedish speakers to the group. Thanks to a recommendation of their friends, they got in touch with the SI alumni community. I was one of the SI alumni who liked their idea and joined the club. I began learning Swedish during my studies in Östersund and finished A2 level. After I returned to Ukraine, I wanted to keep practicing Swedish with native speakers and those who also study Swedish in Kyiv. Together we named our speaking club “Språkcafé i Kyiv” and in short this is how our project began.

In the very beginning, there were onlike about 2 or 3 of us at the meetings – choosing discussion topics, playing table games and of course, speaking Swedish. The challenge was to find native speakers but we managed by going through our personal networks, friends of friends, Facebook announcements on SI alumni group, Couchsurfing etc. We used all available communication channels to attract more people to join us. We held our first Språkcafe meetings with Swedes from Ericsson, Beetroot and Tobii (Swedish companies in Ukraine) who supported our initiative. We were really building a little community.

Now there are more than 250 people in our Facebook group  and more and more of them join us every week. It means that there is a growing interest in Sweden and Swedish in Ukraine. We even meet people who learn other Scandinavian languages but they come to us because there is no similar Norwegian or Danish club in Kyiv. There is “Språkcafé i Lviv” which was established by our example a year ago and we plan to organize such clubs in other Ukrainian cities as well. It is great to know that people heard about us in Sweden or even on a plane on the way to Kyiv. Therefore, we expand our borders.

Traditional group selfie at the weekly meeting

We organize general weekly meetings once in one or two weeks in different cozy places in Kyiv. Sometimes we have special thematic meetings e.g. köttbullar evening when we cook Swedish meals or watch Swedish movies together. We always try to organize small celebrations of Swedish holidays as well. One of the most memorable holidays, which we celebrated this year, was Midsummer.

Midsummer celebration 2016

We had almost 80 guests including Swedes who live in Kyiv or arrived specially for the holiday. We spent three days in nature outside of the city. We had so much fun! We followed all holiday traditions – danced around a maypole, wove wreaths, sang Midsummer songs, cooked traditional dishes, played Swedish games, swam in the Kyiv sea. In addition, this autumn we organized Swedish picnic in collaboration with the Scandinavian house “Stockholm Studios” in Irpen. We cooked köttbullar and Swedish desserts for the guests and gave presentations on the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine, Swedish business in Kyiv, and travelling in Sweden. I think the most impressive was the final part of the event when we opened a can of surströmming.

Swedish picnic at Stockholm Studios. October 2016

Beetroot founders who were our first Swedish guests at Språkcafe meetings played a crucial role in development of the project. This year Beetroot kindly created a logo for our club, and, most importantly, a website. Everything was free of charge as Beetroot charity initiative. Thanks to Swedish Institute financial contribution, we bought a domain and paid for hosting for the website. We feel a lot of support and very thankful for that. We hope our Språkcafe group will be growing, strengthening bonds and inspiring SI alumni from other countries to create their Swedish language clubs.

Do you have a story that you want to share with your fellow SI Alumni? Get in contact with the SI Alumni team!

SI Alumni Events this Autumn

There has been a lot of alumni activity this autumn! Here are a few updates:

Mykolaiv, Ukraine: “Youth Employment and Human Rights Kateryna Shapochka”, 19-20 September

The seminar on Youth Employment & Human Rights was held at Mykolaiv V.O. Sukhomlynsky National University.

The course Youth Employment and Human Rights offered SI Alumni and the participants an opportunity to improve their knowledge about Youth Employment and Human Rights.

The main topics included: the fundamental Human Rights Declaration today; the implications of the HR on international and national level; labour law and rights at work: equal opportunities and protection against discrimination; job placements and further education leading to a qualification.

The program included expert lectures and presentations, small group interaction in the “open space” mode followed by the simulation games, “A class divided” movie discussion, personal human rights cases presentation and discussion.

Chisinau, Moldova: ”Consolidation of Moldova SI alumni network”, 24 September

On the 24th of September there was organized the first social networking forum to bring SI alumni together and strengthen the capacities of the newly created SI Alumni network in Moldova. The purpose of this event was to consolidate and stimulate our network to participate into the decision making process.

The event started with inspirational opening remarks from Swedish Institute representative, Markus Boman followed by Andreas Bryngelson from Lund University. Most of the alumni participants were not familiar to each other; this is why the programme included a short presentation of all the guests. That was a great chance to share their experience and interests in Sweden.

Furthermore, there was a creative workshop – break out session in three groups, where SI alumni identified stringent problems that Moldovan society faces and discussed possible solutions, proposing projects/initiatives. Strong discussion points were raised about gender awareness in schools, wastewater management, and academic exchange programs, sustainable production and consumption, among others.

Chisinau, Moldova: ”Eco-dinner”, 25 September

Through this event organizers wanted to increase awareness of several target groups such as SI alumni and public institutions regarding the importance of ecological products and motivate them to further promote and consume eco/ organic products.

Ecological products in Moldova have been discussed from three main areas: sustainable consumption, production and public polices in this field. After the panel discussion session, there was arranged a workshop on problem identification and potential solutions for each of the upper-mentioned area.

The workshop finalized with a “ECO-buffet” made with mainly seasonal, locally sourced products and healthy dishes by a specialized company in nutritional rich meals.

Gothenburg, Sweden: “Engaging with unaccompanied minors”, 21 October

The SI local network in Gothenburg held a workshop on the challenges of unaccompanied minors in Sweden and how different organizations work with them. Around 15 alumni and participants engaged actively in the discussions with guests from Save the Children, the Swedish Red Cross and Gothenburg University and tried to map the ongoing initiatives working on these issues. It was a great opportunity to network and connect with relevant actors.

Amman, Jordan: “SI Alumni Think Entrepreneurship Workshop”, 1 October 

Many Swedish Institute alumni joined Next Level event in Amman at Zain Innovation Campus on where 140 attendees from All around Jordan and the region joined and networked and learnt how to have an innovative dialogue about youth challenges and next was a panel discussion where the Swedish embassy highlighted the Si programs for the young Arab enterpuners and ended with one of the most famous activities of the YLVP program which is a case study was given to groups to work on and develop.

Moscow, Russia: “How to take sustainability further in various organization types”, 26 October

30 SI alumni and their friends gathered to discuss how to move sustainability practices and understanding in their organisations to the next level. The event started with the energetic line exercise that the participants learned from SI team in Sweden: in an interactive way participants expressed their opinions & perceptions on the state of CSR in Russia and what uture they oversee. After that one of SI alumni, Andrei Grigoriev, framed the gathering and introduced a concept of CSR from the perspective of Spiral Dynamics. Then, two guest peakers from local sustainable businesses – Vkusvill and Coco-Bello Honey – shared their experience with building sustainable organisations and challenges that are ahead of them. Participants engaged in discussion which followed by informal networking for more than an hour over fika!

Egypt: “Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation”, Day one: 20 October, Day two: 29 October, and Day three: 5 November

The SI event focused on the idea of proactive learning through online education forums. The topic was social innovation, what it is, how to approach it and to engage constructively through with one’s local community. It was a discussion based event to learn collectively from all participants’ previous experiences and to build future connections for social innovative work.

Interview with Swedish Institute alumnus: Dmytro Iarovyi

The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine has interviewed three Swedish Institute alumni. This article is the last in a series of profiles published by the Embassy of Sweden during October.

Dmytro Iarovyi, originally from the Luhansk region, is the current Head of international communications at the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine.  A few years ago, Dmytro was looking for opportunities to study abroad and, according to him, Sweden offered the best combination of affordability and quality. After receiving a grant from the Swedish Institute, Dmytro spent two years studying International Administration and Global Governance at Gothenburg University.

“It was the brightest experience of my life”, says Dmytro. “The teachers were great. Moreover, thanks to the practical component of my course, I was able to do a two month internship in New York for the delegation of Ukraine to the UN”.

Dmytro’s study abroad experience involved a good portion of sight-seeing and leisure. He was pleased with Gothenburg’s mix of big city clubs and small town cycling lanes, and considers it his “favorite city in the world”. Being part of an SI-programme also allowed him to form lasting connections with international students. Thanks to an SI-organized kickoff at the start of the academic year, Dmytro met other SI-students and made a great group of friends. Together they rented a car and travelled all around Europe.

Upon returning to Ukraine, Dmytro was so inspired by his time abroad that he decided to continue promoting his experiences and values from Sweden.  As an active member of SI’s alumni network, Dmytro has co-hosted a workshop on leadership with the help of SI’s funding. He has also independently hosted a workshop on public broadcasting for Ukrainian students and SI alumni.

Dmytro wholeheartedly recommends the SI’s programmes to other Ukrainians looking for a European experience and has tirelessly promoted study abroad opportunities. “For those who want to learn about good practice in governance and administration, with a uniquely Swedish perspective on gender and development, studying in Sweden is an invaluable opportunity. I would highly recommend applying for these scholarships – if I could, I would do it again and again.”

The interview was published at the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine website. You can read the original article here.

Interview with Swedish Institute alumna: Mariia Tyshchenko

The Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine has interviewed three Swedish Institute alumni. This article is the second in series of profiles published by the Embassy of Sweden during October.

Mariia Tyshchenko is the founder and director of the NGO Poruch (“Nearby” or “Alongside”), as well as an associate professor in the political economy department at Kyiv National Economy University. A tireless activist and educator, Mariia’s main interests center on sustainable development and social cohesion.

“I was already interested in sustainable development. When looking for programmes where I could explore this in more depth, I stumbled upon the Swedish Institute’s summer school”, says Mariia. The 2010 summer school on strategic sustainable development involved spending one week in Mundekulla, followed by one week in Karlskrona. The whole experience was funded by SI.

“Mundekulla was in the middle of nowhere in northern Sweden. We lived on an estate that was completely sustainable”, remembers Mariia. “They grew their own food and recycled pretty much everything. They even had sustainable toilets! Having to differentiate between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ plastic was a bit of a shock for us Eastern Europeans.”

Moreover, the community sported a small grocery store without a shopkeeper. The store’s profitability relied on visitors putting the right amount of money down for the items they bought. This made a deep impression on Mariia. “For me, it was proof of the high levels of social capital in Sweden. Coincidentally, social trust correlates with low levels of corruption”, says Mariia.

Of course, in addition to their learning experience, there was plenty of time for the students to enjoy themselves. “I was lucky enough to have my summer course coincide with the Swedish Midsummer celebrations. It was a party like I’ve never experienced. We were even wearing our vyshyvanky (Ukrainian national dress)!”

Mariia was heavily inspired by the summer school’s overall philosophy of social responsibility, as well as the strong presence of women activists in Sweden. Mariia returned to Ukraine with a feeling that she could change the world. As a result, Poruch was born, an NGO with the aim of building communities and fostering sustainable development in the regional areas of Ukraine. Their current projects involve social cohesion training in Donbas and integrating internally displaced people (IDPs) into their host communities. This was directly inspired by the social cohesion she observed in Sweden.

Mariia has continued to maintain her relationship with the Swedish Institute and its alumni. During its 5 years of existence, Poruch has organized dozens of events, many supported by SI and the Embassy. The vast network of activists and experts Mariia formed at SI’s summer school has also been a valuable resource: to this day, the SI summer school alumni work together on various projects all over Ukraine.

In 2015, Mariia went to Sweden once again, this time to SI’s Summer Academy for Young Professionals, with the aim of increasing the practice of good governance in the wider Baltic Sea Region.

Overall, Mariia is happy with her choices. “Attending SI’s summer schools broadened my horizons while enhanging my career profile” she says. “Ukraine still has many unsolved domestic problems and challenges. By studying the Swedish experience we can add to our own knowledge”.

The interview was published at the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine website. You can read the original article here.

YCF Alumni Get-Together in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Below is an article from Imran Newaz Khurshid who participated in the Young Connectors of the Future (YCF) leadership programme alumni event at the Ambassador’s Residence in Bangladesh.

Dis you participate in an alumni event that you want to share with your fellow SI Alumni? Get in contact with the SI Alumni team!

Photographer: Poroma Kanya – the Communication Officer at Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka

What  can be more exciting than meeting your fellow alumni after you have successfully completed an amazing program like the Young Connectors of the Future (YCF)? Yes it really happened on the 1st of November and was hosted by Mr. Johan Frisell – the Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh.

The greetings went smooth as the YCF alumni arrived one by one. Not only it was exciting for the YCF alumni to meet the newest cohort of YCF participants, but the Ambassador himself was also very enthusiastic to meet us and know about our passions and areas of work. The alumni certainly had a diverse work area. They are working in sectors like Youth Development, Human Rights, Policy Advocacy, Women Empowerment, and many other social dimensions where changes need to be brought. The alumni who knew each other from the previous YCF programs recalled the reminiscence of their past gaiety. But they were super excited to meet the most recent batch of YCF and to learn about the participants in general along with their passion and goals.

The YCF started its journey in 2013 with a cohort of seven participants from Bangladesh who joined other talented individuals from three other South Asian countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The YCF’s journey started at that point and now we are here all chatting together at the Ambassador’s residence – meeting each other again and knowing a great deal about the most recent participants. This time there were seven “change-agents” from Bangladesh and they have joined the participants from four other countries (where the new addition was Sri Lanka) to complete their first module that was conducted from 29 August to 16th September of 2016.

Mr. Johan was very generous to take out some time from his busy schedule and share it with us to learn about us. He discussed some of the important ongoing activities of Sweden and the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Among them the some of the significant ones were the Nobel Week Dialogue and #HeForShe campaign.

After the formal greeting and announcements made by the Ambassador, Palki Ahmed and I were invited to speak about our experiences of YCF and share our advices to the most recent batch of YCF.  Palki, an alumni of YCF 2013 who now works at United Nations Development Program (UNDP), stressed on the cross-cultural benefits and learning and networking with the other youth peers. She also mentioned how these are essential to understand leadership. According to her, global concerns are now interdisciplinary and it is important to take a global approach, for which the Swedish Institute (SI) allowed us to create that platform, and connect and learn from each other. She was very impressive in recalling her understanding of YCF and its goals.

Her well-thought-of description helped me to recall all the anticipations and excitements that I had during my trip to Sweden, both the times for the YCF modules 1 and 2. I felt nostalgic as I recollected the exciting times while travelling to Sweden, enjoying the beautiful nature, gulping the Swedish coffee during the ‘Fika’ and learning so much about leadership. The learning experience there eventually empowered me to initiate my own program of Soft Skills and Leadership training for the young people in Bangladesh. Since then I have been involved in training the young people at various social initiatives, political leaders at Democracy International, and other young professionals. I emphasized on the importance of building a strong network among the SI alumni and exemplified on the collaboration of working with the YCF alumni from India and Bangladesh.

The sharing of the experiences did not stop among the YCF alumni. As we started mingling with each other and really getting to know the new cohort of the YCF, the new cohort along with the old ones continued sharing their experiences of YCF and about their current works! Solnara Aktar Tania, a participant in YCF 2016, who works at Ain O Salish Kendra, found the YCF to be very interesting. She absolutely loved the way the program was facilitated by the trainers. According to her the content of the learning sessions was amazing, especially the Social Networking lessons. Also, understanding what the human rights situation in other parts of the world added to her professional skills. The team culture that was developed made the participants feel like family members to each other.  Another participant – Hasib Ahsan Nadeem, who went to YCF during 2014-15 has always believed that YCF is a mix of emotional and practical leadership training. He still remembers the very first ice breaking session he had in a tiny village named Ekero where the 30 participants drew everyone’s pictures with a single scratch of the pen. It was fantastic how it basically made him feel that it’s a one world and all of us were like different parts of human body where “humanity lies”. Hasib, immediately after finishing his YCF module 1, got an invitation from Stockholm University to attend and preach in a seminar at ‘Nobel Museum’ where different scholars were present. And after coming back to the country, he developed different large scale projects on social and economic development keeping the human rights and gender rights entities under consideration. He is now looking forward to attend the ‘Nobel Week Dialogue’ in Stockholm, Sweden in 2016.

The evening was a memorable one with a lot of discussions and fun. Thanks to the Ambassador of Sweden in Dhaka – Mr. Johan Frisell for generously hosting us and getting to know us. We revisited the fact that it is of paramount importance for young leaders to work collaboratively across sectors to bring sustainable changes to the world that we live in. Therefore, it is high time that we keep on doing so to develop innovative solutions to the multidisciplinary challenges around us.