Over the summer, the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) hired three student interns through the Canadian government’s Summer Jobs program. These individuals worked diligently for many months in an effort to keep SUSK running and prepare for our upcoming congress in August. Additionally, they helped with other administrative tasks, including the development of SUSK’s high school guidebook as well as updating our website.
Take a minute to read through their excerpts retelling their experiences working with SUSK:
Dear Ukrainian Canadian students,
I have been working behind the scenes of SUSK for the past few months, and I am here to reassure you that there is hope for the future of our Ukrainian Canadian community.
When viewing SUSK from the outside, you likely see a national student organization that initiates campaigns, organizes events, supports an independent Ukraine, and facilitates professional development. On top of doing these things that are characteristic of Ukrainian Canadian organizations, “SUSK behind the scenes” is so much more. It is a busy place filled with bright and innovative individuals, all working towards a common goal—empowering the future leaders of our diaspora.
There are a few individuals working exceptionally hard to welcome and promote diversity and inclusivity within SUSK and its affiliates. Results of their work can be seen in initiatives such as the Equity: Commitment and Action Policy, the implementation of a new Board of Directors position that focuses on achieving the goals of this policy, and LGBTQ2S+ education. The work does not end at what you can see from the outside, however. These individuals are constantly advocating for a more inclusive, diverse environment and thinking of ways we can do better.
This work is SUSK’s responsibility. In order to reach its goal of effectively uniting and empowering future Ukrainian Canadian leaders and properly representing their voices and views, SUSK must first and foremost be reflective of the incredible diversity within our Ukrainian Canadian student population. This being said, it is through the crucial leadership of these smart, hardworking individuals that SUSK will strengthen and thrive for decades to come.
When the opportunity presented itself during my internship, I leapt at the chance to portray this through SUSK’s mandate, mission, and vision. With help from the Board of Directors, I worked diligently to write statements that are reflective of where SUSK is today, and where we hope it will one day be. These changes will be officially implemented at this year’s National SUSK Congress, which is taking place from Aug. 26 to 29.
Moving forward, it will be more important than ever to actively uphold these statements. SUSK’s foundations are strong and steady; its room to flourish — endless; and the time to take advantage of this – now.
One of you
My name is Sofia Holowatsky and this year I held the general summer intern position at SUSK. I’m very grateful to have had this opportunity to learn more about SUSK’s mission and vision for the Ukrainian student community, as well as to have been involved in a variety of its projects and summer initiatives. Some of these included the first-ever Sweat with SUSK fitness challenge and fundraiser, preparation for the 2021 virtual Congress and the 2021 SUSK High School Guidebook – coming soon!
During my time as an intern, I learned how much teamwork and dedication goes on behind the scenes to make all of these incredible projects a reality. It was a pleasure to work with all of the Board members and National Coordinator, and I am thankful to have learned from them all. I hope to be able to bring this same drive and passion to my USO this upcoming year! My advice for all students is to get involved – whether it’s by joining your university’s USO (or starting one), volunteering at a local organization, or participating in community events – these experiences provide the opportunity to meet new people, make memories and learn new skills!
I am excited to participate in Congress as a delegate for the first time this August and to continue volunteering with SUSK throughout the year. Through this experience, I have also been inspired to one day run for a position on the SUSK Board of Directors so that I am able to contribute my efforts and continue upholding Ukrainian culture and awareness at a national level.
My name is Yevgeniya Chabanenko and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work this summer as SUSK’s Web Development Intern. I got to know more about SUSK and all the great initiatives it has for post-secondary students across Canada. It was also very refreshing to see how strong the Ukrainian community is in our country among Canadian youth.
During my time with SUSK, I worked on a large variety of different projects. I had the chance to advance my knowledge and expand my skill set as a web developer and a graphic designer. Working on improving the functionality and design of SUSK’s websites and using an entirely new (to me) website creation platform has been most memorable.
As I complete my internship with SUSK I am eagerly looking forward to working on reviving the USO at my own school after it became inactive a few years ago. The Ukrainian community is growing quickly in the Nation’s capital, and I am eager to see where this effort will go.
Lastly, if you are a Ukrainian student or interested in Ukrainian culture, politics, or history, please do not hesitate to get involved and volunteer in the Ukrainian community. Consider joining a USO, and other Ukrainian youth or local organizations. As someone born in the south of Ukraine, my first language growing up was Russian and I began learning Ukrainian only later in my teens. However, leaving Україна and coming to Canada I was rapidly losing my Ukrainian as it wasn’t spoken at home. This made me feel as if I wasn’t “Ukrainian” enough and was unsure about getting involved in the Ukrainian community. I want to reassure those experiencing the same thoughts that everyone is welcome no matter what their background or language skills are. Ukrainians are a very friendly and welcoming people!
I am so excited that SUSK is prospering and cannot wait to see what the future holds. Дуже Дякую!