Farewell to Ukraine

How to possibly encapsulate the way six months of living in another place can affect your being? It is with a heavy heart that I leave my good friends, colleagues, and new found family in Ukraine. As I finished work this week, spending my last days in the office with staff and our wonderful volunteers of YMCA Kyiv, I was filled with a sense of hope for our new association. The energy, dedication, and deep goodness of all the people I have had the chance to work with have consistently overcome the challenges we’ve faced in establishing ourselves as a local branch of YMCA in Ukraine.

I thank everyone who showed me so much grace and support during my time in Ukraine, who really made me feel at home, and who made my work here possible. Thank you to my colleagues at YMCA Calgary for sending me here, for believing in me, and for encouraging me during the trying times. Thank you to my colleagues in YMCA Ukraine, for consistent energy, positivity and dedication – you are having such a positive impact in the community! Thank you to my participants for always keeping my spirits high, and reminding me why I do the work I do. Thank you to our partners in YMCA Volyn who have been a huge support for our new local association – you are our role models! Thank you to all those who have been interested and supportive of us – your positivity makes a big difference.

My last month in Ukraine flew by, as we were so busy with new programs and exchanges. We took our YMCA Kyiv Tensing team to Lutsk for an exchange with our partners, YMCA Volyn. The students absolutely loved the singing, dancing and social work sessions they participated in – and made many new friends. They asked keenly after our weekend there if they could participate in the Western camp during the summer. I look forward to seeing what this partnership brings in the future.

In celebration of YMCA Peace Week in Canada, we held “Yoga for Peace” at our local partner college. This was a very new and interesting experience for the students there, as many of them had never participated in a yoga or meditation class. Take a look at the YMCA Kyiv Facebook page for pictures!

My last meeting with volunteers gave me so much faith in the future of YMCA Kyiv – high attendance and lots of solid ideas. The discussion is upbeat and progressive, as our volunteers now know they can do anything they put their mind to. We have accomplished so much together, and I cannot wait to see how you grow and thrive, my beloved YMCA Kyiv!

Thank you to all those who were part of this incredible experience!

All my love,


Saying goodbye to our Tensing team!

Farewell at the office with Iuliia and Viktor

YMCA Kyiv Mug from volunteers!