Ukraine was the first successor nation of the Soviet Union to invite the Peace Corps to establish a program on its territory. Volunteers in Ukraine work throughout the country to help Ukrainians develop approaches to effecting positive change and skills necessary for communication in the global community.
Since achieving independence in 1991, Ukraine has taken steps toward representative democracy, political pluralism, and a free-market economy. Recently, a dramatic proliferation throughout Ukraine of small business startups and new community organizations signals a country on the move and a people increasingly taking advantage of their new freedoms.
In response to Ukraine's expressed needs, Peace Corps Volunteers work in the areas of community economic development, English language education, and youth development.
Community Development Work duties include: • Fostering cooperation among businesses, civil society, and local government • Providing trainings on management, • Supporting project development, • Facilitating community dialogue, • Introducing electronic data management technology and training and teaching modern forms of project planning, problem solving, and management.
Education (TEFL) Work duties include: • Working as English teachers and English teacher trainers • Bringing new knowledge and methodologies to the Ukrainian educational system • Fostering teacher-to-teacher links to promote the exchange of information on the best teaching methods. • Establishing or expanding English teaching resource centers and contributing to curriculum development and the production of innovative English teaching materials • Organizing and leading language and sports camps for Ukrainian youth • Initiating and participating in English clubs • Assisting with in-service teacher training; sponsoring student newspapers; organizing essay and debate contests; and seeking ways to transmit health topics, information technology, gender issues, and other subjects through their English lessons and extracurricular activities with their students.
Youth Development Intro: The youth development project helps youth to prepare for active roles in the social and economic life of contemporary Ukraine by assisting them to develop skills that will improve their ability to lead healthy lives, obtain dignified and remunerative employment, and be active and responsible citizens of Ukraine.
Institutional collaborations: youth centers, cultural organizations, departments of family, youth and sport, centers of social services for youth, government services for minors, youth nongovernmental organizations and boarding schools.
Work duties include: • Offering young people in-school lessons and extracurricular activities, • Conducting community projects aimed at preventing substance abuse and the spread of HIV, and promoting a healthy lifestyle, • Helping youth develop skills in information technology, business, leadership, civics, ecology, and career development • Organizing summer camps promoting active citizenry, • Initiating journalism programs, • Implementing Big Brother/Big Sister programs on mentoring orphans and disadvantaged youth and conduct educational seminars for teachers.
Links to Ukraine website, or links to volunteer posted projects
PCPP Ukraine projects
Links to Ukraine PCPP projects
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Ukraine
The opening of Peace Corps programs in the Newly Independent States corresponded with the beginning of the end of decades of mistrust and hostility between the United States and the former communist governments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In the decade that Peace Corps Volunteers have worked in Ukraine, they and their Ukrainian counterparts have faced and overcome a wide range of challenges. Suspicions harbored for years are difficult to overcome. Ambiguity and economic instability have been the norm in Ukraine during the difficult transition to integration with the West. Working and living in a country that is simultaneously deconstructing and reconstructing can often be confusing and frustrating. The Peace Corps has always prided itself on its ability to provide flexible and adaptable Volunteers, and the program in Ukraine truly tests this ability.
The formal agreement establishing Peace Corps/Ukraine was signed in May 1992 in Washington, D.C., by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and former U.S. President George Bush. Since the first group of Volunteers arrived in Ukraine in 1992, more than 1,000 Volunteers have worked in three project areas: business development, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), and environmental protection. Currently, more than 300 Volunteers work in more than 100 cities and towns throughout the country’s 24 provinces and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Ukraine
Although you will find an environment similar to Western standards in Ukraine, living conditions are not the same as in the United States. Accordingly, you will have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle. Volunteers in Ukraine live in a wide range of sites, from large, European-style cities (up to 20 percent of the Volunteer population) to small towns or villages with few modern amenities (up to 80 percent of the Volunteer population). Generally, housing is in short supply, space is at a premium, and accommodations will be cramped. It is not uncommon for a volunteer to have no control over the heating and water supply in his or her living arrangement. Some volunteers have outdoor plumbing and a coal burning stove.
During Pre-Service Training (PST), you will live with a host family. This homestay is designed to help you learn about Ukrainian culture, facilitate your language learning, and enhance your safety. While an effort is made to find a good fit for each trainee and host family, there is no guarantee that your host family will be non-smoking or able to accommodate your dietary preferences.
Up until Group 35, Peace Corps Ukraine also had volunteers live with a host family following swearing-in and installation at permanent site. This homestay was for a period of one to three months and served as a means of integration into the community. However, the majority of volunteers starting with Group 35 no longer live with a host family upon arrival at site. In rare cases, due to a housing shortage, some volunteers do live with host families, but most likely a volunteer will have private living arrangements in either a house, apartment, or university dormitory.
Public transportation in Ukraine is relatively reliable but lacking in speed and comfort. Volunteers travel by marshrutka, bus, and train, or any combination of the three. Marshrutka can come in the form of a medium to large size van or a minibus. They are used frequently for both intra and intercity travel. The same is true for buses. For long distance travel, locals and volunteers use trains, which generally run on time, but travel very slowly as a rule. There are three classes of train tickets, first class (luxe), second class (coupe), and third class (platzcart). Most volunteers travel platzcart.
Main article: Training in Ukraine
The overall goal of Pre-Service Training (PST) is to prepare trainees for safe and successful service in their future assignments and communities. The emphasis during training is on enhancing existing skills and experience to the Ukrainian environment, as well as on developing new knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable successful integration, effective work, and the trainee's ability to care for his or her own health and safety. The training program has five major components: technical training, language training, cross-cultural training, health training, and safety and security training. The homestay experience during PST is one of the most valuable aspects of training.
The training program recognizes that trainees come with a unique set of skills and experiences along with a well-developed sense of curiosity, independence, and the ability to adapt to new situations. Thus training is designed to provide trainees with strategies for taking more responsibility for their own learning.
Peace Corps Ukraine uses a community-based model of training. The entire training group will meet only for PST orientation, called the Arrival Retreat and at the end of PST at the Swearing-In Conference. For most of the training period, trainees will live in clusters, in towns and villages located in Kyivska and Chernigivska oblasts. Clusters consist of four to five trainees assisted by a Language and Cross-Cultural Facilitator (LCF) and a Technical and Cross-Cultural Facilitator (TCF). Trainees will study either Ukrainian or Russian. In addition, they will be given various assignments in the community that will enable them to apply and further develop their skills. In the past an event called Site Visit took place around the midway point of training in which trainees were sent to visit their future sites and meet with Ukrainian counterparts. However, beginning with Group 34, this has been discontinued. Site announcement now takes place during the Swearing-In Conference.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Ukraine
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the importance of health maintenance behaviors. The Peace Corps in Ukraine maintains a clinic with four full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are available in Ukraine at carefully screened local facilities. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Ukraine
In Ukraine, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Ukraine.
Outside of Ukraine’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may also be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Ukraine are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Ukraine
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Ukraine?
- What is the electric current in Ukraine?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts to Ukraine?
- After training where will my site assignment be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Ukraine?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Ukraine
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Ukraine and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 100-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Ukraine.
Luggage should be tough and flexible, like duffel bags and backpacks without external frames. When choosing luggage, remember that you will be hauling it in and out of buses and trains and often lugging it around on foot (there are no porters!).
- General Clothing
- For Men
- For Women
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Ukraine Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Ukraine. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.