We can't wait to tell you the story of another bright star of ESN Kyiv community – Olesia Deineka. Olesia studies Journalism at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and has been a member of ESN Kyiv since its very beginning. With such rich experience in volunteering, Olesia has definitely something to tell you!

Q: Everyone here has a very special story of getting into ESN Kyiv, and we are very excited to hear yours! 
A: Actually I do have this special story. Exactly a year ago I was at the party with a friend of mine from the Shevchenko University who said the call for Student Parliament members was open. We agreed to both apply to the Education Department, and that’s what we did. Before becoming an actual member, I had to meet the head of the department to discuss all the details. However, I arrived an hour earlier and met Tanya Fedorchuk, the president of the ESN team. So she told me about the organization, and I’ve made a decision to join it instead. I haven’t regretted it yet!

Q: You are a member of the Communication Department. Why did you choose to join it? 
A: I wanted to try working with social media, and practice writing posts in English, as I major in Journalism. I enjoy being where I am right now, however, I am an open person and I also might try my hand in other departments. I previously had some experience in event organization for ESN last year when the departments were not quite formed. I have to say I probably would enjoy working in any department in ESN Kyiv because there are aspiring and interesting people in every department of our organization!

Q: What are your expectations vs reality of volunteering in ESN Kyiv?
A: I wouldn’t say I initially had expectations. I joined ESN Kyiv because it seemed like an interesting concept of an organization, and I still think it is true. It’s our team that makes it amazing!

Q: How would you describe ESN Kyiv's spirit?
A: International, global, but local at the same time, educational, useful, and fun. I also have to emphasize that ESN Kyiv has an incredibly supportive and friendly community. I have noticed that people in our organization are always willing to help each other, whether it is about sharing interesting events to visit, or offering a hand in professional or personal life.

Q: Do you feel like you've changed since you’ve become a volunteer? How?
A: We all change to some extent as time passes. I guess I improved my teamwork and team-building skills because volunteering in ESN Kyiv allows me to communicate with people from various regions of Ukraine whose life experiences differ from mine. Moreover, I learned to accept failures, take responsibility for my actions and move on after any downsides. I guess I became more empathetic and understanding.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being a volunteer?
A: People! Meeting aspiring students from all over Ukraine and Europe and, consequently, gaining new perspectives on life, education, and the world! I want to help newcomers because I’ve been an exchange student myself and I know how hard is it to be in a foreign country. I hope, my work in ESN Kyiv would make the stay for European students in Ukraine better.

Q: You’ve mentioned that you were an exchange student yourself. What program have you taken part in? What is the most struggling part of being an international student from your experience?
A: I have participated in the FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) program in the United States during my last year of high school. I spent an academic year in a small town in New Jersey, living with an American family and attending a local high school. The hardest part was probably to get used to American mentality and lifestyle in general. For example, when I have just come to the States, I couldn’t understand why people are smiling most of the time. We don’t do that much in Ukraine. The majority of Americans eat fatty dishes on a daily basis, and I don’t like fast food. These were little things, which added up to the global picture. However, thanks to the help of my American friends and host family, I learned how to accept differences and make them work for me. I learned that it is essential to form strong bonds with people, they will help you to withstand any difficulties. So my advice would be to make friends, talk to groupmates, get acquainted with other exchange students and your exchange will 100% be enjoyable!

Interviewer: Anastasiia Mykytenko
Photos: Olesia Deineka's personal archive, ESN Kyiv