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Marta Barandiy addresses students of International Relations

Dear colleagues, with gratitude and pride I accepted this invitation, sent by the dean of the faculty of international relation – professor Markian Zinoviyovych Malskyy – and his deputies, to speak in front of you. 

I assume you all, like me once, dream of becoming a diplomat, a politician or a government activist? I guess that’s why you are here in the first place. 

19 years ago I was in your place and I was shaking from happiness about the fact that I managed to get in, but at the same time I was also shaking from anxiety because I did not know the people nor the rules. 

I did not know how the future will unfold and whether I will become a diplomat or a statesman after my studies. I did not know whether my friends or colleagues will help me, or even whether my newly acquired knowledge would help me. 

But right now, I can definitely say that my shaking was justified. It was justified because if I did not take my studies seriously, I wouldn’t have been able to dream of a European future for Ukraine and would never have taken the initiative into my own hands. 

The world belongs to initiatives. This is why from the beginning of my studies I utilized all tools available within the faculty. I read, I researched, I pushed on… I went to the dean and the heads of departments for letters of recommendation, I was the first to come into contact with foreign bureaus located beside the university, I searched for scholarships for conferences and courses in Europe.  

I immediately entered the organization called Young Diplomacy(ts), in order to meet students from other courses. In my second year I managed to get internship in the Ministry of Economics and during my third year into the MFA of Ukraine and lastly, during the fourth, into the European Parliament in order to fully reinforce the incentive to partake in public life. 

Alas, initiative does not go unpunished. 

The more you achieve the greater your contribution to society is and, accordingly, the higher your individual degree of responsibility for this contribution is. 

I lived this through for the past 5 years.

When in 2014 Yanukovych attempted to extinguish this dream of a European future for Ukraine, when Russia occupied Crimea and began a military campaign in Donbas, all of the aware and active Ukrainians showed incentive to preserve the country. 

I have never considered myself an activist, but the desire to help my country and my dream of becoming a diplomat, which at that time did not happen, pushed me to act. 

Then I was already living in Brussels. Because of work and a newly born child I did not have the chance to return to Ukraine. Hence, I was forced to do what I could where I was. 

I invited Ruslana to meet the vise-president of the European Commission and wrote newsletters to all of my colleagues about the situation in Ukraine and asked for their assistance. I received it. 

Finally, I created Promote Ukraine in Brussels in order to open up the real Ukraine and the European ambition of the Ukrainian people to Europeans.  

In order to create and manage the organization I had to use all of my knowledge and existing contacts, including those of my university. In Brussels my team and I managed to organize 70 events and projects, sacrificing our families, work and comfort in the process of doing so. But my team and I did so that through our papers, videos and conferences our voice could be heard in the European Parliament, in the European Commission, in government structures of Belgium – in the heart of the European Union. 

Soon we will release  2 new projects – the mobile application for Ukrainians living abroad and Brussels-Ukraina Review Journal. 

The former ambassador of Belgium to Ukraine, Luc Jacobs, praised Promote Ukraine as a reliable and authoritative organization in establishing a nuanced image of Ukraine abroad. The former ambassador of the EU to Ukraine, Hugh Mingarelli, believes that these initiatives are essential for introducing the foreign audience to the very important and beautiful European country like Ukraine. 

I fulfilled my dream of becoming a diplomat, and, although, officially I do not work for the government, I feel responsible for how I represent Ukraine in Brussels. I feel responsibility for what I created and for the fact that we are heard and we are known, I feel responsible for making this organization serve as a benefit for my team and the Ukrainian people. 

Because of the fact that I was heard and known, I could represent the largest Ukrainian law firm in Brussels – Asters. 

Would you like to be heard, seen and known? Would you like to use your merit in order to become part of an idea that is larger than you yourself? 

Dream about it, use any means necessary and sacrifice your comfort in order to achieve this dream. In 19 years, maybe even earlier, you will see the results. 

Show incentive and ask for help in realizing it from the dean, the heads of departments and other professors and colleagues. 

Read primary sources.

Learn languages. I came to the university with the knowledge of one foreign language and left with three – and I use all three. 

Have breakfast, lunch and dinner with your colleagues and their friends, introduce them to yours, because you will never know who will become a minister, a president or simply support you once you leave these walls. 

Finally, join Young Diplomacy and apply for a scholarship at the European Forum Alpbach.

I congratulate you on taking your first step towards becoming a diplomat and I hope to meet you someday in ministries, embassies, parliaments, or in the offices of presidents of Ukraine or Europe!

 

 

 

 

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