Although Ukraine has been overshadowed in the news by other "hot spots", the situation there remains dire.  While Kharkov itself does not lie in the part of Ukraine effectively annexed by Russian separatists, the city borders that region and has struggled with a huge influx of refugees.  More than ever, re-enforcing democratic practices in the area are crucial.  The PA program will be implemented in several schools including many that host refugee students.  After a careful selection process, the group of teachers traveled to Nowy Sacz in November 2016 for PA training and a chance to see what a democratic movement can do in the face of oppression. 

The goal of this small project was to retrain and reinvigorate PA in the Eastern Ukraine. 21 teachers from Kharkov itself and surrounding areas including the "no man's land" spent 6 days working with MTO/ CEC trainers. The workshops on PA and our efforts to reaffirm what makes PA different from volunteer projects were well-received. We were all active participants and listeners and learners. An aside, the workshops were run in Polish! With the group responding in Russian. This took concerted and worthwhile effort on all sides!

The sharing that took place was immensely important for everyone.  It was clear that the UA teachers needed us, Poles, teachers, students, activists to listen and understand what is going on in their country. We gave them safe space to talk, during workshops, classroom visits where they made presentations to Splot students and at the KOD (Committee for the Defense of Democracy) meeting. Also informally during consultations and coffee breaks.  Poles were able to get first-hand information from witnesses and participants rather than the media with some of its distortions or the latest Polish movie designed to stir anti Ukrainian propaganda.

We are deeply grateful to Mr. Charles Merrill for his trust, long-term support and encouragement without which this project and many other projects would not be implemented.