Kyiv, January 19, 2016. “It was very interesting for me to come here and understand what is really happening in the country, talk to people, see everything with my own eyes, and this is not what we see in the news,’ said Rodrigo Montes from Mexico, a student at the Faculty of International Relations, about the project «Feel Ukraine» at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “It helped to understand the processes in the country and the region as a whole”. “Gabriel Farah from Brazil also arrived in Ukraine in order to understand the situation because he studies international relations and follows the developments in the world. “When I arrived, I was able to see personally what was happening, how people make their choices in this situation. The truth is that the situation is different from what we see in the news,” said Gabriel. According to Rodrigo and Christopher Guzman from Brazil, the trip helped get rid of the stereotype, that it is dangerous in Ukraine in general. “This is almost the same as what we hear about Mexico – allegedly if you go there, you will be murdered, robbed and so on, but it is not so. Similarly here – you just have to get into the country and see for yourself,” said Rodrigo.
Christopher Guzman was pleasantly surprised at a friendly attitude to them as foreigners: “People saw that we look differently, approached us, asked where we were from, and took pictures.” In addition, the students admitted that they are impressed by Ukrainians’ love for their country and willingness to fight for their ideals. “Young people really believe in the future of their country and want to live in a better country. This is what young people in my home country lack,” said Hugo. “I was also surprised that each city I visited has its own special atmosphere and beauty, although all of them are Ukrainian cities.” According to most students, Odesa made the greatest impression on them with its special atmosphere, architecture, multiculturalism, and the fact that most people spoke English, so they did not feel any language barrier.
Sixteen interns from around the world visited Ukraine in frames of project “Feel Ukraine” organized by the international youth NGO AIESEC. They visited different cities of Ukraine in six weeks. “We divided the project into two parts – the central and western regions. In the central region we chose such cities as Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, and in the west – Lviv, Uzhhorod, Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk,” said Olena Shershun, vice-president of AIESEC Ukraine incoming internships. Eight interns went to each of these regions. Ukrainian activists decided on this project format after the attitude to Ukraine of AIESEC representatives from other countries became rather cautious because of the last two years’ events. “In modern world, the information flow by word of mouth “works” best – we trust our friends, we trust people we know. We believe that when these young people return to their home countries, they can personally tell everybody about what is happening in our country and what Ukraine is, “said Olena Shershun.
According to Shershun, they plan not only to continue the project but also expand it. “We want to invite at least 50 or even more interns for the summer. Now we are deciding which cities will participate,” she said, adding that they plan to focus on the cities of Western Ukraine.