People make history: take YourEffectiveActions
May 27, 2024

People make history: take YourEffectiveActions

Socialisation – is it a bad dream or manna from heaven? Is it as easy as it looks and what are sociable people really hiding? Stay in your bubble or take one step outward that could change your fate? Who are they, those people we have met? In one way or another, everything in our lives is interconnected and intertwined, often in unnoticed ways. However, PEOPLE have the greatest influence on us: those who suddenly appear in our lives; those introduced by friends and the chance encounters on the street.

Emma Sepala of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education writes: “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. They also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative.”1 Moreover, social interactions are critical for your mental and physical health. They are effective in reducing depression in both those who have healthy self-esteem, and those with a poor self-image.2 

My journey began with an embarrassing truth: I had no idea about the YEAs’ initiative and I didn’t have anyone to clue me in. But as the saying goes,  “Seek and you will find”. Late last year, I found myself as a YEA, discovered that I’d been participating in events organised by the initiative, and had even had a chat with a YEAs SMM member in 2021. I’d also got to know the person who would end up sending  me an application form for the YEAs. We met at the EU Study Days 2022 – an educational project of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, and now all together we are ambassadors3. Did I ever imagine that one day I would take such a step, which would significantly change my life? I would like to say, yes! Believing in your capacities is a key that can open the heaviest doors in the world. 

My story continued when I received the mandate of Young European Ambassador in 2023,  and discovered how many people I began to know personally, and what it really means to build strong connections. 

With some, we had been together at the EU Study Days 2022,  with others I got acquainted through the Ukrainian projects that we organised. I began to establish connections and plan events with people from my city and university as part of the initiative. Currently, I keep in touch with YEA  Alumni to implement my next idea within the YEAs’ network.  

The power of the community is a key that can open doors and treasure chests.  Thanks to the YEAs, I have met people from different parts of Ukraine, but we all share common values and a desire to spread the word about the EU; to show the world of opportunities that community provides. As they say: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

For now, I invite you to immerse yourself, and draw inspiration from the testimonials of three YEAs in Ukraine.

Oleksandra Verheles, UA YEA: “YEAs are people that encourage and support all the time. They inspire me to keep going, no matter what. My YEA journey is full of magic girls and boys that I’ve got to meet. Frankly, the energy, the chemistry and initiative that are circulating between the Ukrainian ambassadors are my personal source of power. My special YEAs are Liliia Antoniuk and Olena Gurkina. I met Liliia in Poland at the European Forum of Young Leaders in 2019. Since then, we have cooperated on various YEA projects. She demonstrates how to reach career success and to be a true emotional leader. Olena Gurkina is a representative of a younger YEAs’ generation. Despite only recently embarking on her YEA journey, Olena is incredibly motivated. We only met last year, but we have worked together on two consecutive events. To sum it up, YEAs provide opportunities to be among the best youth, that is definitely the future of our country.”

Illia Snigur, UA YEA: “After applying in 2023, I was accepted as a member of the initiative. I was thrilled to become a part of this amazing network, which was recommended to me by my colleagues and friends from Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, who were already YEAs in their countries at the time. These people encouraged me to join the YEAs and had a great influence on me. We met at a joint project and a series of conferences on the European future of our countries, and talked about opportunities for young people in the EU. Most of these colleagues were active participants in the YEAs’ initiative in Georgia and they told me about the essence of this initiative, the strength of the network, its core principles, and the vast array of opportunities offered by the European Union. I saw they were consistently hosting engaging activities, participating in volunteer work, and developing their organisational and public speaking skills. This piqued my attention, and I applied to join the YEAs. Here, you will always meet colleagues who will gladly help you in putting your ideas into action, because you are driven by the same things. After all, the YEAs’ initiative helps to realise the dreams of ambitious and European-minded young people in a global framework, fulfilling their aspirations.”

Nataliia Yaroshenko, UA YEA Alumna: “I find collaborations extra powerful, even though being a bit introverted it can be rather tough to find new connections. Among the YEAs I’m honoured to have worked with Daryna Lynnyk, whom I invited to several eco activities. As the co-organisers of an annual festival that takes place in Cherkasy region, we collaborated a lot. Then I invited her to join one of the projects in 2021, regarding  green values and green habits of youngsters from the Sumy, Kyiv, and Cherkasy regions. It was a pilot project supported by the British Council in Ukraine. After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the whole project was transferred into an environmental project supported by the EaP Civil Society Facility as part of the EaP Civil Society  Fellowship. This project is focused on an info campaign regarding the landscapes of war in the 21st century.  Another collaboration is with YEA alumna Kateryna Kravchenko, with whom we are working on the project ‘School of City Ambassadors in Sumy’, supported by the EU4Youth Alumni Network this year. Also, with Kateryna we were volunteering together in Kassel, as it turns out that we were living in the same country – Germany.”

1 Dr. Emma Seppala, ‘Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection’, The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (2014) 

2 S. Cohen, D.R. Sherrod & M.S. Clark, ‘Social skills and the stress-protective role of social support’,  Journal of Personality and social psychology, 50 (5), 563-573 (1986)

3 EU Study Days, an educational project established by the EU Delegation to Ukraine 

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