The Plast Huculak Center in Toronto hosted a report by the oldest Plast member and a very passionate Ukrainian patriot, Mr. Bohdan Havrylyshyn. His report, titled “Young Generation Will Change Ukraine” lasted an hour, and Mr. Havrylyshyn provided a detailed account of steps that Ukrainian youth must take in order to improve the political, the social, the economic and the ecological state of Ukraine.
In the report, Mr. Hawrylyshyn said that Ukraine requires total transformation, suggesting that a simple minor reform of the legal system will not be enough to fight corruption, “instead, we must completely change everything”. He lays his hopes on young people, aged 20-35, claiming that they are the key to the better future of Ukraine.
Below is an interview conducted by Kateryna Bandura after the presentation.
Q: What exactly inspired you to launch the “Young Generation Will Change Ukraine” program?
A: First of all, there was a necessity. Although Ukraine has great potential, it is in a very poor condition politically, economically, socially, and ecologically. We must transform Ukraine somehow. However, people who are in power cannot do this, because either they do not know how to or may not want to do it at all. The Opposition is also not an option, as it has no true ideology or even a plan of action of what it would do if it came to power. Therefore, the only group of people that can [transform Ukraine] is the youngest generation.
Q: What is the most essential goal of this program?
A: The goal, the foundation of the program is to give ways for the youngest generation to improve the situation in Ukraine, because everything must change in Ukraine. We need a total transformation.
Q: According to the program, what is the very first step that young people take to begin these changes?
A: In this program, young people create small groups, usually of seven, with a common interest in different areas of public life, like the economy, the legal system, ecological politics, or the social system. Then the group studies a selected country like Norway, Sweden, Austria or Germany, from which they get the information needed to make the changes [back in Ukraine]. Then they meet with the ambassador of the selected country and attend discussions in various educational institutions and ministries. By the end of their visit, they return to Ukraine and write articles about what can be borrowed from the countries [they’ve studied and visited].
Q: How is this program developing, and what is the current success is?
A: It develops better than I dreamed of. It really was a dream, which was why I wrote my memoir Staying Ukrainian to provide inspiration and to give young people more faith in their own strength. The program has already started in winter (2012) and there are already 12 groups that have completed the first phase of the program.
Q: What could you tell about your fund?
A: All these people participate voluntarily. However, if they need to go to a selected country, we finance all their expenses, such as the tickets and the hotels, since they have no money of theirs. This was why I created this fund; we did not ask anyone for the money and we never will. As well, we will not ask for any direct assistance from abroad, so that people there would feel that this initiative comes from us. This also ensures a safe ground, where they will not display any opposition to the idea like the Russian Federation does.
Q: Thank you very much. On another note, I cannot help but ask: you predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. Looking at the situation in Ukraine now, what can you say?
A: I can say that in 15 years Ukraine will be a completely different country. My previous predictions were based on the ideas of activist students, on what they dreamed about and what they wanted to happen in the country. This is a very good, so to speak, base for forecasting.
Q: And lastly. Do you have any suggestions for young people or for Ukraine in general?
A: Always dream and believe in yourself, in your own strength. Moreover, act upon it. Love and respect other people. It is necessary to love, to respect people; to be free, to have own opinions, but to be able to work with others.