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2002 Summit of Ukrainian-American Organizations

2002 Summit Logo

This past weekend the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America (UESA), the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA), and the Ukrainian National Association (UNA) held a Summit of Ukrainian-American Organizations at the UNA estate Soyuzivka in Kerhonkson, New York. This three day summit was intended to address the question of "re-engaging 'youth' in Ukrainian-American Organizations" by creating a brainstorming session for raising new ideas and challenging current assumptions.

The organizing committee (pictured below - left to right) for this year's summit consisted of Andrij Wowk (UESA), Marco Shmerykowsky, PE (UESA), Ariadna Nychka, MD (UMANA), Oleh Holynskyj (UESA), and Wasyl Kinach, PE (UESA).

2002 Summit Organizing Committee

(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

The weekend began with an informal cocktail party on Friday, March 15th where early arrivals could relax and talk with friends. Even at the late evening hours, some of the attendees where already engaging in spirited discussions on what needs to be done to re-engage not only the youth but the entire Ukrainian diaspora community in the various Ukrainian-American organizations.

The morning panel on Saturday was structured to address the topic of "Our Ukrainian Organizations Today." The panel was moderated by Roma Hadzewycz, the editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian Weekly. The morning session's included panelists Dr, Roman Andrushkiw, first vice-president of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, Mr. Paul Farmiga, president of the Rutgers University Ukrainian Students Club, Mr. Marianna Zajac, president of the central New York Regional Council of the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, Mr. Stephen Kaczaraj, treasurer of the Ukrainian National Association, Mr. Marco Shmerykowsky, PE, vice president of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America, Bohdan Vitvitsky, vice president of the Ukrainian-American Professionals and Business Person's Association of New York and New Jersey, and Dr. Ihor Voyevidka, president of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America.

2002 Summit Attendees

(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

After lunch, the panel discussion turned to the topic of "Our Organizations Tomorrow." The panel was moderated by Irene Jarosewich, the editor-in-chief of Svoboda. The afternoon panel included Ms. Christina Baranetsky, president of the Columbia University Ukrainian Students Club, Mr. Yuri Blanarovich of the Ukrainian American Cultural Foundation, Mr. Jaroslav Kryshtalsky of the Ukrainian Institute of America, Mr. Alexander Kuzma, executive director of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund, Dr. Andrew Liteplo of Plast, Ms. Lida Mykytyn, vice president of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, Reverend Ivan Mazuryk of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Mr. Michael Sawkiw, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

Once the formal panels were concluded, the summit shifted gears to a more informal group discussion with the participants seated in a large circle. The Saturday afternoon panel was moderated by Bohdan Vitvitsky and Andrij Wowk. This session was note worthy due to the fact that an open and intelligent discussion was initiated between both younger student participants and older professionals. All parties treated each other respectfully. The net result was the "brainstorming" session that the organizers had hoped for.

Saturday evening, the summit attendees were treated to an informal cocktail party and were entertained by the piano playing of Mr. Andrij Stasiw.

On Sunday, the attendees participated in another informal "wrap-up" session where some of the various points which were raised during the previous day's discussions were examined more closely. Among the more important points which were raised was the fact that our "youth" has a great desire to participate in our organizations. They want to feel as if they are wanted and consequently, they want to be respectfully approached about participating in our organizations. Several times the concept of "mentoring" and belonging to a "Ukrainian" organization were mentioned as being highly valued.

Another interesting observation was made by Mr. Andriy Masiuk who noted that Ukrainian-American community has characteristics of a virtual community. Although our "Ukrainian Community" still exists in physical neighborhoods in large cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and New York, to a large extent we have taken advantage of the wide open spaces of the United States. We are no longer exclusively concentrated in small geographic areas and consequently, we must develop new methods for both communicating and becoming involved in our Ukrainian-American organizations over long distances.

In general, the first Summit of Ukrainian-American Organizations generated a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm. Long standing issues such as the unattractive and stale stereotypes of what Ukrainian-American organizations are like, the competition for personal time from non-Ukrainian organizations, and the loss of purpose after the attainment of Ukrainian independence where brought out into the open and rationally discussed by everyone in attendance without any political or organizational bias.

The energy generated during this summit has set the ground work for future Summits as well as "mini-summits" in various cities.

To see a selection of photographs from this year's summit, please click click here. The photos were provided courtesy of Mr. Andrij Wowk.

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