Open World facilitator, Sergiy Shtukarin from Donetsk, Ukraine selected as a Fellow with the McCain Institute's Next Generation Leaders
Open World facilitator, Sergiy Shtukarin from Donetsk, Ukraine, joined us in 2012 when he took a group of delegates to Atlanta, GA. Since that time Sergiy has traveled with delegates to Madison, WI; Wausau, WI; Phoenix, AZ; and twice to Birmingham, Alabama. Sergiy is an educator and human rights professional committed to the revival of the Donbas region. A civil society activist, Sergiy is passionate about the preservation of civil liberties and promotion of democracy in Ukraine. He supports revival efforts in the Donbas through the establishment of sustainable and resilient communities that are appreciative of human rights and democratic governance. Sergiy also seeks to foster communication and cooperation between the United States and Ukraine. He has recently started a fellowship as a Next Generation Leader with the McCain Institute. Below, is a Q&A with Sergiy on his accomplishments and his future plans.
1. What was the last delegation you facilitated? Any highlights to share?
My most recent Open World delegation was a group of young renewable and bio-energy experts, who visited Wausau, Wisconsin. I think the delegates were amazed to see advanced scientific research, and the high technological level and societal demand for green energy in the United States. Coupled with the insights on how democratic governance works in the U.S. and direct cultural experience from living with amazing host families, I’m positive this made this short trip a long lasting memory and an impetus for positive action back in Ukraine.
2. How useful is your Open World network to your own work?
Coming from a civil society background, I networked with the Open World alumni to prepare grant applications, in particular for the State Department’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. I have also bumped into Open World alumni at professional meetings with local stakeholders. That did not surprise me, as I had been a part of that transformative experience that delegates had while in the U.S., which was later driving them to assume leadership roles in their communities.
3. What did your last position as a Human Rights Officer entail and what are some of your greatest achievements?
Prior to joining the cohort of McCain Institute’s fellows, I worked at the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (HRMMU). I was part of the team which observed the conflict unfold in Donetsk and Luhansk, later on I also worked in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhya regions. The HRMMU’s public reports have been informing the world community about the Human Rights situation in Ukraine, discussed at the UN Security Council and commended by the Ukrainian government for objectiveness and valuable recommendations. I enjoyed working with a great team of professionals passionate about human rights and having the strength to work tirelessly in the middle of a war. I saw that our work matters when governments reacted to our monitoring, but most importantly when in numerous instances people’s suffering was alleviated.
4. What do you hope to accomplish as a Next Generation Leader at the McCain Institute?
As a participant of the McCain Institute’s Next Generation Leaders Program, I plan to design a Leadership Action Plan on the post-conflict rebuilding and reconciliation in my native Donbas. The region was invaded by Russia in 2014, which installed fake, self-proclaimed “people’s republics,” and is currently under partial Russian occupation. Awakened as a nation by the Maidan movement, Ukrainians stood up to defend their freedom. After we restore the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine over Donbas (and Crimea), much work will have to be done to heal the societal trauma and to build a new economy in the region, based on advanced green technologies, inclusive governance, self-sustainable and resilient communities. As an NGL program participant, I am contributing to this effort, currently building a team of likeminded professionals, who share common values and vision.
5. What is your most memorable Open World experience?
I enjoy every aspect of the program, and rejoice when I see that the delegates bring back a drive to change things at home. My most memorable experiences, however, are all related to meeting and getting to know the host families. Their hospitality and care are beyond words, each time I feel how we are all connected as humans, that we are part of one big family. This is what Hawaiians call Ohana.