7-1   On November 15, 2013 a conference on volunteerism titled «Voluntcerism as a platform for community mobilization of Kyiv region» was held in the conference room of the Kyiv Oblast Administration. This conference examined the current situation within the sphere of volunteerism as well as trends of its development in Ukraine. Other goals of the conference included presenting the best practices of volunteerism in the Kyiv region, to discuss ways and methods of community involvement on volunteer projects and development of volunteer traditions. The conference was organized by the Charitable Foundation «Community Foundation of Pryirpinnya», an all-Ukrainian civic center «Volunteer» in partnership with Kyiv Oblast Administration.
   The editorial of Oksamyt magazine interviewed Mr. Marat Kurchcvsky, Community Development Project Lead Specialist of Pcacc Corps Ukraine who participated in the conference and made an exciting and relevant [opportune] speech.
«Oksamyt»: - Peace Corps Ukraine - history, goals, sources of funding, cooperation with the governments?
Marat Kurchevsky: - The Peace Corps is an independent agency of the United States Government created with the purpose of providing skilled Volunteers to promote peace and friendship between the U.S. and hosting countries. The three goals of Peacc Corps are:
1) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of other peoples served.
3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.7-2
The Peace Corps furthers cooperation among the people of various nations through the development and implementation of programs and projects, including those initiated by Ukrainian non-government and government organizations to support sustainable democratic development and further integration of Ukraine into the global community. The Peacc Corps operates in Ukraine pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Ukraine, signed on May 6, 1992 by President Leonid Kravchuk and President George H.W. Bush.
   The Pcacc Corps Program is registered with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine as an international technical assistance program. The partner Ministries of the Program are the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine.
   Currently, there are three projects that Peace Corps operates in Ukraine: Community Development (CD), Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Youth Development (YD).
O: - Community Development Project of Peace Corps Ukraine: goals, objectives, activities?
M.K.: - Community Development Volunteers work primarily with non-governmental organizations and charitable foundations but also with libraries, local governments, museums, employment centers, and educational institutions.
The purpose of the project is to help Ukrainian communities become more socially and economically vibrant through a stronger civil society and business environment.
Project goals:
Goal 1. Citizen Participation and Service Learning - to increase the capacity of Ukrainians to manage resources and participate in local civil society and community development to benefit their communities;
Goal 2. Organizational Development - to assist in building com-munity-level organizations institutional capacity by improving their planning, operations, programming, and resource diversification in order to strengthen their effective leadership in civil society development;
Goal 3. Economic Opportunities - to assist local community members in improving their business skills and cultivate new economic opportunities to benefit their communities.
M.K.: - While working with Ukrainian organizations, Community Development Volunteers share their experience in community development, project design and management, and project proposal development. They also train their Ukrainian colleagues in professional skills such as strategic planning, management, fundraising, etc. A Volunteer's main role is to facilitate the capacity building of their Ukrainian colleagues and help them strengthen their professionalism, citizenry, creativity and organizational and management skills and provide Ukrainians with the opportunities to learn through this process.
О: What is the difference in volunteerism in the US and in Ukraine?
М.К.: - Personality and individualism are fundamental American values. This explains why Americans believe on a very deep level that a lot depends on "Me". These values and beliefs build initiative on the one hand and responsibility on the other, which is the foundation of active citizenry. Americans are used to expressing this attitude by many different means, including volunteerism. Statistics reveal that some states within the USA, 60 % of the population volunteers on a regular basis and the majority of Volunteers belong to the age range of 25-45. Thus we are talking about an economically active layer of the population that has lots of social, family and financial responsibilities and at the same time gives back to their community.
7-3     In Ukrainian eulture, one that is paternalistic, the "Personality" has been traditionally undervalued, and was especially complicated during the Soviet era. Therefore, we forgot what personality is and got used to somebody else making decisions for us - hctman, monarch, government, city mayor, president - and there is not much that we can do about it. Besides that, Ukrainian culture clings to collective type of culture. We always need somebody else to do something, even to volunteer. As famous Ukrainian expressions state, «one cannot fight», «what would other people say», «initiative should be punished» and as a result «my house is the last one in the village and on the outskirts». To add to this, the various volunteer campaigns of Soviet times when one was supposed to volunteer not because he or she wanted to and do what he or she wanted personally, but to do something because he or she was told to do so by the government. What kind of volunteerism we arc talking about? Currently we arc going through the revival of our state, building democracy and the renaissance of volunteerism. Therefore it is very important to cclc-brate all accomplishments even basic ones and cherish the traditions that arc renewing and gradually transforming volunteerism from a concentrated trend into a common one.
   Another important reason for vol-unteerism development in the US is the fact that volunteerism belongs to fundamental values of American society. Volunteerism is prestigious. A Volunteer is an acknowledged and respected person. Volunteer experience is considered a career achievement. Volunteerism is encouraged by various practical incentives such as acknowledging volunteer experience on a resume or considering it as a plus for scholarships.
In Ukrainian society volunteerism has not become a common value. I do not think I will reveal any sccret information if I say that volunteers are often perceived as people that volunteer because they do not have anything else to do, because they have too much free time. Volunteers are often treated as a cheap labor that can be used to perform the type of work that nobody else wants to do and do it for free because these are volunteers. Let's not even start talking about them deserving any awards or appreciation.
    Speaking of a cheap labor, in the US and Europe, volunteerism is so common and developed that there has been various methods developed to estimate the economic benefits of volunteerism. According to different estimates the annual contribution of volunteers to the US economy equals more than 300 billion US dollars. Thus, volunteerism development holds a huge economic potential.7-4
     Another thing that is true for Americans is their informal approach to different aspects of life and societal activities. Due to the fact that volunteerism is so popular in the US, volunteerism does not require any government coordination or governance. For instance, as far as I know there is no law on volunteerism in the US but this does not prevent American society from being the one with one of the most developed volunteerism movement in the world. Instead there are many various opportunities for Americans to volunteer that government and non-governmental organizations crcate for people with particular motivational tools. The Peace Corps Program is one example.
There is no equivalent of Peacc Corps in Ukraine, the government sponsored volunteer program for the citizens of the US. And in Ukraine there arc many different laws and orders. This is the way we developed volunteerism. We have laws and rules as a road map provided by the government, which has not proven to be effective. With regard to this I would like to draw everybody's attention to the draft law on amendments to some of the Laws of Ukraine on Volunteerism (3549-1 dated 11/14/13) that was designed by professionals who have been working on volunteerism promotion and development in Ukraine. This is exactly how laws should be designed and adopted - from practical experience and from precedent. Hopefully, this is going to become the first step to a precedent legal system, which is by the way, another distinguishing feature of the US that is again rooted in the value of personality and equal rights. A personality centered but not governmentally centered socicty.
    Opinions expressed in this article are personal opinions of Marat Kurchevsky and do not necessarily reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peacc Corps.

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