Aug 02 – Aug 26
Since 2015, 360Plus Foundation, has provided fully funded three-week trips – Leadership Collective – to India for 175 high school students from low resourced families in 10 plus countries.
In January this year we saw an opportunity to bring a group of Ukrainian students on a similar trip effectively giving them a break from the war. But instead of India we decided on a three-week trip to the US in August. Eight students from Kyiv between the ages of 12 and 19 were identified for the trip and have just completed it spending time in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York. From the moment of arrival in Los Angeles on August 2 to their departure from New York on August 26, the group participated in a plethora of experiences including:
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
The unique ‘aerial view’ introduction to the San Francisco Bay Area by being passenger(s) in small single engine aircrafts generously piloted by a group of donors from the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 20 at San Carlos Airport, the walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, the guided visit to Stanford University where they also had an opportunity to interact with Ambassador Mike McFaul (former Ambassador to Russia), a cruise of San Francisco Bay and walk in Chinatown, a visit to Muir Woods with its connection to the United Nations, visits to Monterey Bay Aquarium, the San Jose Tech Museum and Computer History Museum, a very informative curated visit to the Google campus , a morning walk in the redwoods in Woodside to see Methuselah tree (redwood tree nearly 2000 years old), Filoli with its old age grandeur and gardens and much more.
A walk around Midtown Manhattan, a cruise around Manhattan Island, a visit to The Statue of Liberty, Rikers Island and the 9/11 Memorial each in its own way reinforcing the aspirations of people and the threats from bad actors like the current situation in Ukraine, the crazy rides at Coney Island, the exhilaration of the glass floors and spectacular New York views from 1000ft up at the Summit Building, viewing the rich art at the Museum of Modern Art, participating in Ukraine Independence Day with a solidarity march (against the Russian invasion) from Washington Square to City Hall, enjoying Broadway at a performance of The Lion King, evening walks and desserts in Times Square and much more.
It was a hectic three weeks of activity and constant movement. 10000 steps goals were met each day. Cuisines from different countries were tested and tasted following some initial hesitations. In every interaction/visit Learning and Discovery were front and center.
Students captured their day each day in the form of short blogs. They also produced a composite blog for the whole trip.
Their actual blog and a summary created by ChatGPT are below.
Andrii: Andrii learned that despite cultural and economic differences, people around the world follow similar principles and rules. He gained confidence and the ability to express his opinions with conviction through interactions with people from diverse backgrounds. (Read full blog here)
Illay: Illay enjoyed various aspects of the trip, including visits to amusement parks, museums, and cities. However, he had some complaints about accommodations and cleanliness in certain cities. Overall, he found the trip to be memorable and exciting. (Read full blog here)
Kateryna Neshcheret: Kateryna Neshcheret appreciated the opportunity to explore new cities, experience their daily life, and learn from museums and guided tours. She mentioned that early wake-up times and the need to write texts at night were challenging aspects of the trip. (Read full blog here)
Kateryna Obraztsova: Kateryna Obraztsova highlighted the value of communication with fellow travelers and people from different countries. She appreciated the contrasts between the cities they visited, allowing her to see both the pros and cons of living in each place. Her favorite city was San Francisco. (Read full blog here)
Semen: Semen says that the program brought him countless new and enriching experiences, deepening his understanding of the world, its people, and history. Exploring museums, historical sites, and diverse cities left him with unforgettable impressions and a broader perspective. He is immensely grateful to 360Plus for this transformative journey. (Read full blog here)
Vitalina: Vitalina described the trip as wonderful, with visits to four cities in one month. She appreciated the diverse cuisine but had some reservations about certain places. She expressed a desire for more free time to explore specific places of interest. (Read full blog here)
Yana: Yana expressed gratitude for the opportunity to visit America and learn about different cultures. She mentioned memorable experiences in each city, including visits to Disneyland, Universal Studios, museums, and national parks. Yana also emphasized the challenge of adapting to a new country and its lifestyle. (Read full blog here)
Yuliia: Yuliia was initially surprised by the opportunity to visit the United States. She mentioned the differences in pace and lifestyle between the cities they visited. She found value in experiencing various rhythms of life and learning from each city’s unique attributes. (Read full blog here)
Overall, these essays reflect the participants’ gratitude for the trip, diverse experiences, and their growth in understanding different cultures and lifestyles. They also touch upon some of the challenges and preferences they encountered during their journey.
PROFILES & PRE-DEPARTURE EXPECTATIONS
Yuliia Dovhoteles, 15 years old. She studies in the 9th grade at a Romano-Germanic gymnasium in Kyiv. Her future aspirations are in the field of health care. She loves drawing and keeps looking for new ways to develop her drawing skills. Yuliia is a calm and understanding person. According to her friends and acquaintances, she is usually easygoing and communicative. She studies and understands English and German.
There is no peaceful life in Ukraine anymore. Of course, if I simply say that war is horrible, I will say nothing. What is happening in Ukraine is not just genocide of our people and culture, but the long-term demolition of our history to erase all life from our land. In many ways, this war was also made possible by centuries of the distortion of history, the manipulation of information, and the billions invested by Russia into propaganda.
Today, babies are born amid explosions, children lose their parents and homes, those loving and living lose the meaning of life, so it is very bitter to realize that the world still continues to use resources of the aggressor state causing sufferings to our country and our people.
Air raid sirens, explosions and night attacks are still the reality of our capital city, and honestly speaking, people have got used to this and continue living, we turn everything into a joke, but everyone understands that another person dies at this time at the front, and not only there. And this is terrible, because such things should not be part of everyday life.
Everyone knows that the United States is a developed country with strong troops, education and standards of living, and in my opinion, this is what all countries should strive for in order to develop and improve the life of their people. I like Ukraine and the US standard of living, and that is why I want to get to know this country better in order to introduce new patterns of development in the life of Ukraine.
Kateryna Neshcheret, 13 years old. She is graduating from the 6th grade of a Kyiv gymnasium with a focus on English and German. She likes drawing and has been attending drawing lessons for five years; she also likes reading, cooking, cycling, music, Marvel movies and comics. Kateryna also enjoys spending time with her friends. Her dream is the artistic career of an artist or an actor.
The events that began on February 24, 2022 are a reflection of the most terrible actions of those people who have power and who influence people, their consciousness and worldview. The events currently unfolding in Ukraine are supposed to end eventually. War is the most terrible thing that can take place in a child’s imagination or real life. It can cause serious psychological problems not only for a child, but also for adults. Coping with this is not always easy. At night, there is a possibility of air raids, and then you are unable to sleep. During the day, you plan to go somewhere, but then you hear an air raid siren and have to shift your plan to another day. In fact, you can go for a walk during an air raid alert but only on the condition that there are no threats of shelling, or you can just visit each other. I believe that all this will be over, and of course, without any doubts, Ukraine will win! I will be able to go to school and see my friends normally.
I expect to get new impressions and positive emotions during the trip. I would like to visit the museums of New York, such as the Museum of Arts and Design or the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Park, which is 100% artificially created, San Francisco, and I would very much like to visit the Google company. Washington is a city with an amazing history with many extraordinary sights, but most of all I would like to visit the Washington National Cathedral.
Illia Dereguz, 13 years old. He is a 5th grade pupil at a Kyiv school and a 2nd year student at IT STEP Computer Academy. He is highly interested in computer technologies, 3D modeling, design and development of his own games and dreams of becoming a software developer. He is a good swimmer and has won prizes in different swimming styles. Illia also studies English. He is communicative, friendly and self-reliant.
A terrible war is raging on in Ukraine that has deprived many Ukrainian kids of their homes, toys, schools, health, and peace. Hundreds of children were killed by the occupiers, and all this only because the russians are furious that we want to live the way we like and not the way they want us to live. They envy us because we are free, independent, strong, and know how to stand up for ourselves.
The war will definitely end with the victory of Ukraine, I have unlimited faith in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, they are the best warriors in the world! I believe that although the road ahead is difficult, a happy, free and peaceful life awaits us. This is our path and we will walk it with dignity! Despite the difficult times, we must continue to live, learn, and develop, because the future of our Independent Ukraine depends on us. The United States is a very powerful country! I know that the United States and the West have done and are doing a lot for the victory of Ukraine, and I am infinitely grateful for their help and support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
I expect to gain new experiences and impressions during my trip to the USA. I expect to get to know different life styles, opportunities and prospects in America, to see how American children live and study. I want to learn different traditions, rules, meals and mentality. I expect to have an interesting time with benefit for my personal development and for the realization of my dreams in the future.
Andrii Cherniavskyi, 15 years old. In August 2022, he passed the entrance exam and entered Omagh Academy, where he particularly enjoys studying business sciences. Football trainings and the gym give distraction from his everyday tasks. Andrii is highly interested in computer and digital technologies. Before the war, he dreamed of visiting the United States, gaining new experience and seeing the contrast with his own eyes.
The war has completely changed my life, as well as the life of every Ukrainian. Many were forced to leave their homes and move to another place, unfortunately, some even lost their loved ones. That is why I so much want peaceful times to come, Ukraine to win and return all its territories, to recover as soon as possible. There is nothing left but to support each other and make good use of this time to help Ukraine rebuild itself in the future.
I have always heard several things about the United States: that this or that can be found only in America, that this or that is possible only in America, or that people would like to move to America because there are high standards of living, high salaries, a plenty of opportunities, good treatment of people and a lot of things worth seeing. So, naturally, I developed a wish to see what they have there that exists nowhere else in the world. Of course, I would like to see New York, Times Square, how business works and develops there. My special interest is to see Silicon Valley, innovative technology centers such as Apple Park or GooglePlex, where you can get a unique perspective on the future of the technology industry, as I am interested in IT. In San Francisco, I would visit Alcatraz Island, I would like to see the world-famous fogs, the legendary bridge, the cable cars. Also, I would like to see Washington, which is the capital of America and which has great political influence over the world, its museums that reveal the history of America, the White House.
Yana Buhryk, 19 years old. She is a student of a Kyiv university. She studies history and archeology and takes part in numerous excavations as part of the university’s practical classes. Yana likes painting, movies, animals and adores her dog. She is also fond of floristics. She believes that even a small bouquet can create a festive mood or fill the home with warmth and coziness. Yana dreams of peace and travel.
The events currently unfolding in Ukraine are very terrible. Many Ukrainians suffer from traumas caused by the war. Missiles fly over our heads and we hear explosions almost every day. In early February, a new semester began at my university, my parents started talking about a looming war, but I tried to ignore such talks and continued to build plans for my future. But all our plans and dreams changed after February 24, when we all woke up at dawn from terrible explosions and found ourselves in a new terrible reality.
This war will leave a huge bloody mark on everyone’s soul, and I am no exception. But we have to be strong, because the Ukrainian people are fighting for the opportunity to live on their own land and build their own democratic country. I believe that all this will end with the victory of Ukraine.
The United States is the world’s largest economy, it is a country of opportunities where every person who works in any profession has the opportunity to achieve success. I would like Ukraine to be the same.
I am very excited about the opportunity to go to the USA and visit so many interesting cities. For me, this is a country from great movies, so I have always dreamed of going there. I want to feel the spirit of this country and experience positive emotions, find new friends and learn the foreign culture. It would be great to visit Silicon Valley, to see the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Semen Morhunskyi, 15 years old. He studies in the 9th grade at a Kyiv school. He prefers personal communication in real life over social networks. Semen likes to play video games with his friends, sports, active games, as well as board games and chess. Strategy games are his favorite. He creates his own unique Lego models not based on the manuals. He is fond of adventures and enjoys reading fiction. Semen is actively learning English and has already completed the B2 level.
The current events in Ukraine are a crime against humanity, they cause devastation, sufferings, and environmental disasters. This war has changed my life entirely. I had to leave Ukraine with my family, change my school, my circle of contacts, everything became different.
This is a rather difficult period of my life. At first, I missed everything I had lost, I could not pull myself together and focus on studying, I did not dare to call my friends who had also left Ukraine. But thanks to the support and friendly attitude of my own family and the Romanian and Ukrainian communities in Iasi, I was able to somewhat abstract my mind from the war, find new friends, and adapt to studying at a Romanian school. I find comfort in communication, reading, school and sport.
I know that the United States is a young developed country, democratic, modern and progressive. People of different races, religions and traditions live there. The United States is associated with a high level of technological and financial development, education; advanced cinematography; the American way of life. The United States is the land of dreams that everyone wants to visit. While being in America, I want to learn how people live on another continent, what famous American cities look like and what traditions and customs there are. I want to find new friends, gain new knowledge and impressions.
Vitalina Petrova, 13 years old. She studies in the 7th grade at a Kyiv school. Her passion is music. So she also studies the guitar at a music school. Vitalina is a member of the “World of Miracles” choir where she has had her first opportunity to perform her namesake song Vitalina solo. She is fond of cyber games, Instagram reels, and communication with friends. She likes traveling, has heard many interesting facts about the United States and hopes to personally see and explore the country.
On February 24, 2022 the life of every child in Ukraine was divided into BEFORE and AFTER. At first, everything was scary, there were explosions, gunshots and the smell of gunpowder in the air. It all began with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But at the same time, it gave Ukraine and the Ukrainians a strong incentive to move towards Europe and to claim a strong and unique position on the world’s map. At the beginning of hostilities, there were tighter security measures, such as light masking and strict curfew restrictions. In case of an imminent danger, during air raids, even today I go to a safer place.
But I believe that all this will not be in vain. Ukraine will become part of the European Union, and Ukraine will be rebuilt to become even more novel and modern. The United States for me is one of the most famous and powerful countries in the world with unlimited opportunities. I have heard from my parents that the USA is a country that has everything: from oceans to deserts, from one-story buildings to skyscrapers, and a plenty of talented people. And I particularly hope to hear and see all the best during the trip.
Kateryna Obraztsova, 15 years old. Kateryna has entered the 10th grade at the private school “European Collegium”, where she annually takes part in Olympiads and research projects. She is fluent in English and German and also plans to study Italian. Kateryna is making every effort to become an architect to actively help people to bring their dreams of a modern and comfortable dwelling into reality. Real-life communication, extensive reading and traveling are her everything.
None of the Ukrainians could have thought before that such a destructive force as war could so strongly change, and possibly destroy, their previously calm, free, inviolable life. Not only children who grew up in peace and people who actively developed their state suffered, but also Ukraine’s rich history, diverse and magnificent architecture, sights, economy and, of course, ecosystem. So many animals died and lost their owners during the disaster. Having caused so much trouble and having inflicted such unimaginable pain on everyone, the terrorist state still remains unpunished for all its actions.
But, despite the difficult situation, people have united. Personally, I am constantly involved in various charity events and projects aiding injured people and animal shelters. I am very glad to be able to help and encourage others to do so.
The United States is a young country that has had a huge impact on the whole world. So many movies, books, sights, paintings, etc., which are related in one way or another to the USA, have inspired me to see this land of dreams coming true with my own eyes. I have always been interested in studying the geographical position of the USA, its architectural peculiarities and the multinational population that cares for the development of their homeland. A very cool achievement of this country is the interaction of its people and the authorities that is the reason of its success in the development of the national economy and social situation today. I am eager not only to see the iconic sights in American cities but also to discover more about the local mentality, traditions, and people’s achievements.