January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Youth Work: The Green Bay News-Chronicle: While serving in the Peace Corps, Carrie Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Youth Work: The Green Bay News-Chronicle: While serving in the Peace Corps, Carrie Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community

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While serving in the Peace Corps, Carrie Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community

While serving in the Peace Corps, Carrie Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community

While serving in the Peace Corps, Carrie Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community

De Pere woman tries to help in the Ukraine

She works to give young Ukrainians the information they need to change their country

By Heather Chrudimsky
For The News-Chronicle
Carrie Kiley joined the Peace Corps two years ago because she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, and she wanted to experience what life was like overseas.

"It seemed like a good challenge that would open up new experiences for me, and at least tell me what I didn't want to be doing as a career," the De Pere native said.

Kiley, 24, definitely got the experiences she was looking for. She now lives in Zhytomyr, which is nestled in the northwest corner of Ukraine.

While serving in the Peace Corps, Kiley got involved with Youth CAN, a program that gives young Ukrainians the information skills and confidence needed to make changes in their community.

"The organization gives these young people the skills they need to go out and make the changes Ukraine needs to move into the 21st century," Kiley said. "The country has great promise, but as is evident from the recent election, there is still a lot of changes that need to be made. "The problems in the political aspect of Ukraine seem daunting to most Ukrainians. They see the problems as too big to change, or just how the system works."

Each year, Youth CAN has a summer empowerment retreat where Peace Corps volunteers work as counselors. That is how Kiley got involved with the program. She applied and was accepted as the journalism counselor the first year.

After her initial participation, the organization asked her to be in charge of trainings and curriculum development for the next year. Kiley organized project design and management trainings as well as the new critical thinking class for the empowerment retreat. Last summer she was a critical thinking counselor.

Kiley said Youth CAN strives to change this attitude.

"We realize that without the attitude that things can change, nothing ever will," Kiley said. "That is why our first goal is empowerment. When these young people see that they can make a difference through series of small projects, they gain the motivation, drive and most importantly the desire to create projects to better the community around them."

Kiley said that thing she likes most about her experience in Ukraine is the people.

"Everyone I work with is so great, and the group of people is so motivated," she said. "The Ukrainian culture is so unique and rich. The history and struggle of the Ukrainian people is amazing. I marvel every day that they are still fighting for their rights after all the injustices they have suffered over the last thousand years. They just don't give up."

Kiley has worked hard to immerse herself in the culture, including working two jobs. For the majority of the week, from Monday to Thursday, she is a teacher in a specialized high school in Zhytomyr. She teaches business, English and communication. She also helps out the debate team and hopes to establish a mock trial club at the school.

After her teaching week is done, she travels to wherever the work is for Youth CAN. Offices for the program are based out of Kyiv, so most of her weekends are spent there. However, she also holds training courses all over the country.

Kiley is on a Youth CAN training team, so a lot her time is spent planning future training. On the weekends that Kiley isn't working with Youth CAN she is usually helping out other volunteers with conferences and promoting the program to youth throughout the country.

Kiley's life in Ukraine is much different then her life back in De Pere. She doesn't have hot water. She does her laundry by hand and she relies on public transportation for everything. Heating and water in the area that she lives in is controlled by the city.

"I'm on a schedule for water," Kiley said. "It shuts off from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m."

Kiley does her grocery shopping in at an outdoor market where they sell everything from live chickens and freshly butchered meet to fresh produce and canned goods.

Kiley said the physical differences were relatively easy to get used to, but the cultural differences were a bit harder to adjust to.

"The hardest thing is not having the language skills I would like to," Kiley said. "I arrived in Ukraine with no knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian, languages which are used extensively, and had only three months of formal training while there. With my schedule, it is hard to find time to study. I have functional Russian, which is the main language used in my city, but I would like to improve it."

Kiley said that she has had many great experiences during her time in Ukraine.

"Every experience where I get to be involved in the cultural and social aspects of the people is amazing," Kiley said. "But I'd have to say the most memorable are definitely the most recent. I was lucky enough to be working in Kyiv for a few days during the recent revolution events. To be in the middle of history in the making is a once in a life time opportunity if most people are lucky."

While visiting Maidan Nezolezhnosti, or Independence Square, in Kyiv, Kiley was allowed to tour tent city on Khreshatik Street, which is usually only open to registered people because of possible disturbances by other political parties. However, a friend of Kiley helped get her in.

"To see the people living in tents on Styrofoam, waiting in line for something hot to eat and warming themselves around barrels is a sight I won't soon forget," Kiley said. "To my amazement, the crowd was the happiest and nicest group of Ukrainians I have ever seen. The people were helping each other, talking, not arguing, with each other. No one was drinking, and everyone seemed to be having a great time despite the cold weather."

Kiley recently extended her service with Youth CAN to take on the international directory role. The program has three directors and one had traditionally been an American Peace Corps volunteer.

"After working with such a motivated and energetic group of young Ukrainians, I was inspired to stay another year," Kiley said. "It was a hard fight. Peace Corps has put restrictions on how many people can stay, but I was successful."

Kiley will serve at the international director through next December. At that time, her service with the Peace Corps will be complete and Kiley will be moving on to another part of her life journey. She will continue to be a part of the Youth CAN board of directors and help the program in any way that she can.

Kiley has a degree in journalism and advertising that she obtained from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

"My future plans are fluid right now," Kiley said. "I'm considering working for a similar program based out of Washington, D.C. after I finish. I have been in contact with people there, and the job seems like a step in the right direction for me. No matter what I do, I know it will be similar to my work with Youth CAN."

For now, Kiley is spending time with her family for the holidays. It was the first Christmas she spent at home in the last three years.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
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Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
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RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
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Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: The Green Bay News-Chronicle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Youth Work



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