Where in the world … Ukraine

September 19, 2019 | Arts & Culture, Society, Science

Eight MacEwan University students in COSL 301: Community Service-Learning – Building Peaceful Communities spent months preparing to spend time at a summer camp for Ukrainian children and youth who live in the country’s orphanages or affected by the war.

The three weeks they spent in the Carpathian Mountains were a lesson in culture, compassion and humility, says Jillian Higgins, a student in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program. “It’s incredible that we could foster such close connections with children and youth when we could only speak a very tiny amount of Ukrainian,” she says. “We met amazing people, we stuck together and we supported each other.”

Even though their Ukrainian was minimal, the MacEwan students found their own ways to communicate as they interacted with the campers, delivering workshops and activities – like line dancing, shelter building, outdoor yoga and a massive game of tag – they had planned back in Canada.

“I am so proud of each of the students who joined me on this challenging, yet exciting, adventure,” says Larisa Hayduk, director, Ukrainian initiatives with MacEwan’s Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre. “Our trip has come to an end; however, the journey for each of us, touched by children and other Ukrainian and Canadian volunteers, will continue.”

Hear more about our students' transformative experiences in Ukraine on Thursday, October 3 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 7-142.

Morning yoga with MacEwan student Kaitlyn Dryden.
Building shelters with some help from MacEwan students Jillian Higgins and Hope Wright, both Bachelor of Child and Youth Care students.
Line dancing with MacEwan students Liam Schalomon and Sofia Maruschak-Love.
One highlight of the camp is a six-hour hike up Hoverla, Ukraine’s tallest mountain, which is intended to symbolize the endless potential and possibilities in life.
Preparing for the final ascent on a windy day. “We wouldn’t let each other quit,” says Jillian.
Taking in the views at the summit.


Growth, support and getting uncomfortable

"The kids taught me about the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone, of believing in yourself and of trying something new. And they reminded me of a dream I had years ago to start a summer camp of my own."

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