- Stories of Alumni
At a ceremony on 12 April Violetta Karpenko (Ukraine, UWCD’17) was acknowledged for her extraordinary commitment as a volunteer to the UWC National Committee of Ukraine. She has been in charge of communications as part of the UWC organisation in Ukraine and put her efforts into running the selection and managing the process in these very challenging for Ukraine times.
In Violetta’s own words
❝Since the war started I have very little things to ground me, things I can hold on to.
Things I believed to be true about the world and global politics turned out to be a big hot mess. The memories of the past are erased and disassociated. I have spent two hours trying to recall the last time I have seen my partner before the war. The social order in which I am the youngest family member was shaken as I became the sole provider for the entire female part of the family. The physical familiar sensations are lost as well: as I am writing this I wear none of the clothes that belong to me or contain any pre-war memories.
What I turned to in order to stay sane were my values. The values I have nurtured in me for years, the ones that make me who I am, and the ones that (my hope is) are there to guide me through the dark times towards being a better person in a hopeful future.
My work, volunteering and purpose in life at the moment are all about education. Education that "unites people, nations, and cultures for peace and sustainable future." And education that is a force to give grounds for independence, self-sufficiency, confidence in the future and freedom.
After finishing the university, I returned to Kyiv and started working in developing Ukrainian EdTech. I became an instructional designer at the Projector Institute, an ed-tech company that creates customisable, digitalised and student-oriented educational programmes and on my one-year review, our founder asked me why I even came back to Ukraine, if I could work anywhere I wanted. The answer is — that IS what I wanted, because to me working in an ambitious, value-driven project, where I see how my work directly impacts people is an obvious winner to fancy corporations.
But even more value I found in joining UWC Ukraine National Committee as Head of Communications this year. I always had the urge to give back and now happened to be the perfect moment. We continued the selection even after the war started and I had to interview students who showed incredible resilience and are already living up to the mission. Some organised volunteering initiatives for animals and IDPs, some became refugees but joined local projects to help other refugees, some were coming literally out of the bomb shelters.
I have experienced (and still am) a lot of survivor’s guilt after I fled to Germany. To put it in words, it’s when you feel like you don’t deserve to be in a safe place, like you are betraying those who are suffering, like you shouldn’t be eating properly cause others don’t have food at all, and this feeling has driven me to work and volunteer a lot. To use the emotional and physical resources I have for the sake of those who were not as lucky. I have realised that my contribution for now is sending our brightest students to UWCs around the world to make sure that Ukraine is represented and to give them the tools to make our world a more hopeful place.❞