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The 10th Yalta Annual Meeting through the eyes of its young participants

Alexei Ryabchyn

PhD in Economics,  Assistant Professor, Donetsk National University; with the help of WorldWideStudies program (Victor Pinchuk Foundation) studied at MSc in Innovation & Sustainability for International Development, SPRU, University of Sussex,  UK

Whereas the majority of participants of the 10th Yalta Annual Meeting (YES) were focused on the issues of European integration and deterioration of Ukrainian and Russian partnership relations, 30 Victor Pinchuk Foundation fellows had opportunity to meet and communicate with famous and outstanding people.


I believe the organizers of Yalta Annual Meetings should obligatorily broadcast on-line the youth discussions as well, as their page views will sure be able to compete with the basic sessions broadcasting.  Much more young leaders should feel the extraordinary energy of this event, have possibility to observe and participate in the discussions, experience involvement into historic and pending events for our state.  

One can find below some words about the best remembered guests whom I succeeded to meet together with the other 30 young participants of the Forum, and several actual recommendations for the young generation of the Ukrainians formulated as a result of communication with them. 

Chinese Professor, Cui Liru spoke about confrontation of China and the USA in the world arena, and he gave a piece of advice to me personally as a parent of a three-year-old daughter to teach her the Chinese language simultaneously with English in order to get a competitive advantage in the future. And despite the fact that the famous futurist Michio Kaku whom we met next day said that in as little as 10 years it would not be necessary for man to study foreign languages since “smart” contact lenses would translate everything for us, I all the same do not intend to ignore the advice of the wise Chinese Professor.


Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland Radoslaw Sikorski told us about the Polish way to the membership in NATO and EU. Charisma, steel glance and military deportment of the former Polish Minister for Defense made a great impression on us. “I want to resemble him”, said one of Zavtra.UA scholarship holders. Unfortunately, the rising generation fails to find commendable example to follow among the Ukrainian leaders.  

United States Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt, actively using social networks for communication, confessed that he started every morning with looking through Twitter and news in his iPad, and only after that he proceeded to reviewing official telegrams. His example demonstrates the role of social media in the formation of public opinion.

It was not less impressive and inspiring to communicate with the infant phenomena: 16-year-old Jack Andraka (an American schoolboy who had made a scientific breakthrough able to make a revolution in cancer diagnostics) and 13-year-old Muhammad Niazi (who together with his twin sister is the main advocates of the system of modern on-line universities). Their life stories should show the Ukrainian schoolchildren and students of all the countries without exception the importance of knowledge in the global world. 


Editor of The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens motivated those scholarship holders who dream of leaving their home country finding no possibility for self-realization: “In order to change the situation in Ukraine you should not be Steve Jobs, there are lots of things in your country which are interesting to improve without significant efforts”.  He mentioned as an example his experience of exchanging currency in a Yalta bank that took more than 20 minutes. The bureaucratic procedures embarrassed him much less than gloomy staff. Mr. Stephens suggested starting the changes in the country with elementary introduction of notion of politeness and customer-focused strategy in the services sector. 

Communication with President of the United States Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton – probably, a future US President, list of books mandatory for reading from Yuri Lutsenko, encouraging story of the way to success told by businessman and politician Petro Poroshenko, as well as the other equally interesting meetings in Yalta are worth at least mentioning, though to a larger extent one more comment.

However I was undoubtedly most impressed by 90-year-old President of Israel Shimon Peres – the planet’s oldest functioning head of the state – after his 30minutes’ speech the audience rose in applause. I would like to master this art of concentrating and “packing” such quantity of wisdom in one sentence.

I have tried to point out several best words of advice for the youth which sounded at the Forum and which I plan to add to my own armoury:

·         to become an expert in one’s business without detriment to the vast outlook;

·         not to compete, but cooperate using win-win strategy;

·         to write articles to the foreign magazines making one’s own contribution to the global Knowledge;

·         to go to the theatre, fall in love with opera, read native literature, know history of one’s country and be its “Global ambassador” in the world;

·         to live in the future, not trying to copy the past;  

·         not to remain in the comfort zone in order to develop;

·         to be occupied with one’s favourite business and surround oneself with people who think like you;

·         and finally, the piece of advice that we heard most frequently – to travel, communicate with people and be open for everything new.  

Having communicated with the great names of today’s history, one start to believe inspired by their personal examples that to score an equal success is possible by keeping up with these and other copybook maxims.   

These three days spent in the company with the world leaders and innovators inspired me for dynamic actions targeted at work for the benefit of the young Ukrainian state which is, by the way, of the same age as the majority of the scholarship holders. And in conclusion, I cannot help to express gratitude to Victor Pinchuk, his Fund employees and the entire professional team of Yalta European Strategy for the successful example of how to build Europe in Ukraine.

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