American Councils continues to stand in solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s brutal and unjustified war. Our support involves several ongoing programs directed towards refugees and internally displaced people, including the Visiting Fellowship Awards for Ukrainian Displaced Scholars, activities from hundreds of alumni, and the Emergency Support for Ukraine Initiative that has raised $70,000 to support humanitarian causes throughout the country.
Through the generous support of a single donor, American Councils was able to provide grants to 17 Ukrainian Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX)* program alumni who recently completed a year studying at an American high school and will soon continue their education as university students despite Russia’s war against their homeland. Given the unsafe conditions in Ukraine, the grants will help provide a secure environment and financial assistance for these ambitious young leaders who have devoted their academic pursuits towards building a peaceful future.
The grant recipients have diverse academic interests ranging from forensic science to public policy, and include Anastasia, who will attend the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and hopes to develop a nuanced understanding of policymaking that she can bring back to Ukraine. "As someone who has experienced the impact of war, I am interested in continuing my education in diplomacy, particularly in international conflicts and peacemaking,” she shared. “By investing in my education and career, I am confident that I will be able to make a significant and meaningful contribution to society."
Reflecting on Ukraine’s post-war future, grantee Arman, a first-year student at the University of Rochester, emphasizes, "When the war is over, Ukraine will need all the available power for rebuilding the country." Arman will be majoring in computer science and international relations and is interested in starting an IT company when he returns to Ukraine.
Vasilisa, another grantee destined for NJIT, envisions leveraging her forensic science education to reinforce the rule of law and enhance justice initiatives in Ukraine. "Returning to Ukraine with the acquired knowledge and skills,” Vasilisa wrote of her future, “I envision collaborating with local law enforcement agencies and judicial systems to strengthen the nation's criminal justice system."
Grantee Sofiia, who will attend Soka University in California, emphasizes how her U.S. education will help catalyze positive reforms in Ukraine. "I see myself among the people who received a Western education without the influence of a Soviet education," Sofiia shares. "I'm part of the generation of young people leading Ukraine into the circle of democracy, and it's necessary to understand how what we are striving for is organized."
Equipped with their distinction as esteemed FLEX alumni and a diverse array of academic pursuits, these 17 FLEX alumni are poised to become positive influences on Ukraine as it looks towards time of great possibilities without conflict. Grantee Vlad, who is about to embark on his educational journey at Stockton University, aptly captures this spirit: "I hope to pair leadership skills and experiences I acquired as a FLEX student with collegiate studies of international affairs in the U.S. to participate in and lead revitalization projects in areas whose development was impeded by war and other crises, like my home country of Ukraine."
Amidst the trials of adversity and the resiliency of hope, these young students transcend boundaries to etch a brighter tomorrow for Ukraine. American Councils is grateful for the donors who have contributed to the Emergency Support for Ukraine Initiative, particularly the generosity that has enabled support for these exceptional students.
*FLEX is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.