Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 48 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we bring you the story of Maksym, a young charismatic leader from Ukraine.
Maksym “Max” Studilko is a Roots Peace Work Institute Alumnus from Ukraine. He was loved by all the participants and organizers for his positive energy and kindness.
When Max first came to the Roots, he had no practical experience in peacebuilding. For many years he worked in the field of youth and non-governmental organizations, where from time to time he would come across conflicts and dealt with them in the best way he knew at that time.
However, according to Max, Roots took him to a new level in the field.
“During those two years, I learned a lot. Although peace work has not become my main profession, the knowledge and skills I have gained there have helped me in many ways, especially in my new job, as I was elected to the district council in the last local elections in Ukraine. I can patiently listen to the parties, identify the common aspects of their views and offer solutions accordingly – so that they are convenient for both parties. “
If we generalize what Roots gave to Max, the skills and knowledge will be in the first place. But many other things follow. The network is the second point mentioned by him.
“I feel how Roots’ network works. I made many new friends from different countries, got acquainted with their cultures and way of life. It helps to understand other conflicts that are outside of Ukraine. For example, recently, when the Karabakh conflict entered a new phase and war broke out, I had friends from there, and that allowed me to follow not only our local and international press but also personally follow those people, to get a more realistic picture of what was happening in that region. “
Development and education are not only scientific methods. Within the framework of Roots, the participants had the opportunity to visit 4 countries: Georgia, Germany, Hungary and Spain.
In addition to the training time, one free day was given for a day trip to the city – to visit museums or other historical and cultural sites, taste local food and learn something about the country.
Max says that as part of Roots Program Festivals he attended the International Activity at Camp Orange in Georgia, which was one of the best summer camps of his life. It was a well-organized multicultural experience that strengthened the connection between the participants.
Being from a country where unfortunately conflicts are real and personal, Roots’ values and skills were very important to Max.
The war in Ukraine created a large number of internally displaced persons in the country, with whom it was quite difficult and challenging to work. He was able to see the real needs of each person, to accept the peculiarities of their way of thinking or living and to provide appropriate support to them using the “Do No Harm” approach.
“Each of our meetings was unforgettable, full of wonderful memories and moments. One of them is the very first day when I came to the first meeting in Tbilisi (Georgia). On that day I went out on the balcony and saw three girls from Armenia on the next balcony. We talked and immediately became friends. At the end of our conversation, I made a video where the girls greet my city, Vinnytsia. That moment was unforgettable for me, It was Roots’ start, it showed how open we are to friendship and communication.
Such an unforgettable moment was one of the activities during the Toledo Reunion when everyone joined 3 songs and had to explain why each song was unique to them. It was a very personal and deep experience that made me look at everyone from a new perspective and get to know their cultures” says Max.
Asked if he would advise others to participate in the program or not – Max said – definitely! He added that people that work for the government and communicate with citizens should receive such training for better relationship building and problem-solving.
“If I describe Roots in three words, I would say – development, understanding and love. Because within this program I learned to see the unique side of each person. Roots helps us to become better, to understand and love other people and to realize that the most important thing is our safe, peaceful environment,”
Max is a 30-year-old man from Ukraine, who was included in the Top 30 under 30 by KyivPost (Annual prize awarded to selected young people that achieved something special).
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!