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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.
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 is to prepare the trainee for safe and successful service in his or her future assignments and communities. The emphasis during training is on both adapting the trainee's existing skills and experience to the Ukrainian environment, as well as on developing new knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable him or her to care for your own health and safety, work effectively at your sites and successfully integrate into his or her new communities. The program has five major components: technical training, language training, cross-cultural training, health training, and safety and security training. The homestay experience (living with a Ukrainian family throughout pre-service training (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 in the training hub only for the initial PST orientation (called an Arrival Retreat), for several days in the middle of PST (called PST University), and then at the end of PST (called Swearing-In Retreat). For most of the training period, however, trainees will live in clusters (in towns and villages located within two-to three-hour ride from the Peace Corps Office in Kyiv) with three to four other trainees, a language and cross-cultural facilitator and a technical and cultural facilitator (the latter will be shared by every two clusters). Trainees will study either Ukrainian or Russian. In addition, they will be given various assignments in the community that will enable them to develop and apply their skills and experience. 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, starting in Spring 2008, this has been discontinued.
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
- Inside the crisis in Ukraine - The Recorder
- Inside the crisis in Ukraine
Tetiana Ostapenko, 53, is journalist for a weekly newspaper called ?Prybuzky novyny? in Nemyriv, a district in western Ukraine that is 3 [?]
- Local couple aiding Peace Corps efforts in Moldova - Sammamish Review
[?]Local couple aiding Peace Corps efforts in Moldova
On a windy, snowy February evening in Cimislia (chur-MEECH-lee-uh), a city of about 15,000 near the country's southern border with Ukraine, the Olsons took time from their busy lives to speak on Skype. They often use the video phone service to connect ...
- Peace Corps volunteer Daven Karp '12 evacuated from Ukraine - The Bowdoin Orient
[?]Peace Corps volunteer Daven Karp '12 evacuated from Ukraine
The Bowdoin Orient
Daven Karp '12 was evacuated from Ukraine on February 23 after protests throughout the country turned violent and the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych threatened further destabilization. Karp had been in Ukraine with the Peace Corps since ...
- Global strife disrupts the Peace Corps - Albany Times Union
[?]Global strife disrupts the Peace Corps
Albany Times Union
The Peace Corps evacuated its volunteers from Ukraine even before the Ukrainian president went into hiding and his abuses of power were shared on YouTube. The news hit the press with a stinging reverberation on social media. I spent one entire afternoon ...
and more »
- Man looks back on time spent in Ukraine - Providence Eyewitness News
[?]Man looks back on time spent in Ukraine
Providence Eyewitness News
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI)- As the violent conflict continues in Ukraine, a North Kingstown native is looking back at his time spent in the embattled country. Peter Meegan was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine from 2009-2011. He recalls the early years of ...
- Local woman evacuated from peace mission in Ukraine - KIMA CBS 29
[?]Local woman evacuated from peace mission in Ukraine
KIMA CBS 29
Margaret Howell admires her gifts from people she met in Ukraine - a place she called home for the last six months as part of the Peace Corps, but left a few days ago when the stability of the country came into question. No chance to say goodbye. "Peace ...
and more »
- Western Washington University grads making their mark in Peace Corps - Bellingham Herald
[?]Western Washington University grads making their mark in Peace Corps
Western's culture of putting higher education to higher purposes matches well with the aspirations of the Peace Corps, notes Western alumnus Lukas Paul Henke, a youth development volunteer for the Peace Corps in Ukraine. "From day one at WWU, I was ...
and more »
- Waukesha woman serving in Peace Corps told to leave Ukraine - fox6now.com
[?]Waukesha woman serving in Peace Corps told to leave Ukraine
WAUKESHA (WITI) ? A Waukesha woman who was in Ukraine with the Peace Corps until about a week ago is speaking out about her experience in the country. This, as Russia's Parliament signed off Saturday, March 1st on President Vladimir Putin's ...
- Local Peace Corps volunteer evacuated from Ukraine - Bay News 9
Bay News 9Local Peace Corps volunteer evacuated from Ukraine
Bay News 9
A St. Petersburg woman, Diana Hunter, 25, who's a volunteer with the Peace Corps, was evacuated from Ukraine on Monday because of security concerns, according to the agency. "I was worried," said Hunter's mom, Karen Linkogle, 49. "I know the Peace ...
- Ukraine in turmoil - The Recorder
[?]Ukraine in turmoil
Yetter from 2004 to 2006 served in the Peace Corps in Nemirov, Ukraine, a small town 3.5 hours south of Kiev. She worked for a nongovernmental organization, Nemirov Association for Creative Initiative, to help develop programs for women and children.
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Sunday March 9, 2014 )
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.
- List of resources for Ukraine
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Volunteers who served in Ukraine
- Friends of Ukraine
- Inspector General Reports