Established with the creation of the Beyond Borders program, the placement at Petryky Internat and Ternopil Region's Rehabilitation Centre in Ternopil, Ukraine is one of the oldest Beyond Borders placements. Run through Ternopil National Pedagogical University, this placement works with young children and women with disabilities. Petryky Internat houses young women from infancy to the age of 30 who have been given up by their families for various reasons. Ternopil Region's Rehabilitation Centre is a school for children with disabilities where they receive not only education, but also specific supports for the disabilities they experience.
Number of student placements:
The partnership was established in:
2007 - Present
What did you take away as being the most valuable aspects of having participated in Beyond Borders? What aspects of this experience were most impactful, and why?
“The most valuable takeaway from my Beyond Borders experience was learning through the relationships that I formed with the people who eventually made Ukraine my home for the three months I spent there. I learned a lot about myself and the bigger world and society in which we all belong in a way that evoked powerful emotions that could only really be felt through relational experiences.”
“I think if I had to choose the most valuable aspects it was the amount of personal growth and learning that occurred. You will learn lessons throughout this experience that cannot be taught in a classroom and you will grow in ways that you may not expect. Although my Beyond Borders experience was 3 years ago, it is something I still reflect upon often and something that was truly a highlight of my university experience.”
“Understanding the experiences of cultural adjustment and learning has opened a newfound appreciation for anyone who has traveled and lived abroad and I now know how to better tailor my work to meet the needs of newcomers and immigrants to Canada. Not a day goes by where I don't think of the people I met.”
“I think that there is so much to be gained from an experience like this, which puts you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to grow. You learn so much about yourself, and the world, and your place in it, and I think you really understand what empathy means. These kinds of experiences change how you see the world - they humble you and connect you and show you what it really means to make a difference in the world. My time in Ukraine is foundational to who I am and how I interact with people now. I think I did a lot of growing up there, and a lot of learning who I want to be.”
What would you like to say to a prospective student considering the Beyond Borders program?
“I think an important part of Beyond Borders is to be able to reflect deeply about one's identity and apply that learning to one's work and daily life. I think it's also important for future participants to have an open mind to help them embrace the inevitable discomfort that the experience will bring as it will allow for the most growth and learning.”
“This program is truly unique and the experiences you will have as a result will prove to be once in a lifetime.”
“You can't learn at home what you can learn abroad. You just can't. There's something about venturing out of this little box, seeing the world as something bigger than what we know, that is absolutely mesmerizing.”
What was your journey like overall?
“We essentially spent our days doing whatever made the girls smile - dancing, making bracelets, colouring, playing cards, making lemonade, and having 'spa days'. We got to take them into the city centre to go on a boat ride and out for pizza, had a pyjama-party-movie day, and dressed up for a fancy dance, complete with a photo booth! I taught them how to play a little bit of ukulele, and they taught me how to make necklaces out of beads. I like to say that my job that summer was just loving the girls, giving them all the love in my heart that I could and bringing some happiness to their days.”
“Working at Petryky was extremely humbling. While you're busy worrying about being liked or not or how bad your Ukrainian might be, these girls show you what it means to truly be carefree and unselfconscious. With them, the smallest gestures can truly mean the most.”
Students will collaborate with their community partner upon arrival to outline their roles and responsibilities as a volunteer. Partners will introduce students to their organization and the variety of projects for students to participate in. Likewise, students will share their own skills and passions with the community partner in these first weeks. This process of mutual sharing and learning leads to co-developing projects, self-guided learning, and mentorship, such that all parties get the most out of this new relationship. What students work on at organizations changes year to year and depends on the student’s interests. Placement tasks could fall under any of the following categories:
• Education support
• Community outreach
• Personal support work
• Therapeutic recreation programming
• Community excursions
• Life skills programming