The opening ceremony
The official opening ceremony of the English Access Microscholarship Program of the US Embassy in Ukraine was held in the city of Starobilsk.
On November 9, the ceremony was held at the Luhansk Regional Universal Scientific Library named after M. Gorky. The Access program is supported by the Embassy of the United States of America in Ukraine and is funded by the United States Department of State.
The international non-profit organization Project Harmony, Inc. (The working name is PH International) in partnership with organizations actively working with children and young people implements activities within the Access program in 17 regions of Ukraine. Together with the Luhansk Regional Universal Scientific Library named after M. Gorky, Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University and the NGO “Sodeystvie” from the city of Slavyansk also render great organizational and logistical support to the Access Program in the city of Starobilsk. Olena Kalashnik and Oksana Lasii, teachers of Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University, will teach students.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Attache on the English Language Studies of the US Embassy in Ukraine John Silver and the Director of the Office of English Language Programs of the US Department of State Joseph Bookbinder. “I was as director not so long ago, and this is my first opportunity to go to the opening of the program, so I had no doubt which country we will visit first. This is a sign that Ukraine supports us, and this is very important for me,” – Joseph Bookbinder said.
The Access program has been operating in the United States since 2004, and in Ukraine since 2008. Ukraine is one of 80 countries where the program Access is held. Today there are already 45 Ukrainian graduates and 490 students. Here, cities are involved in the ATO zone, and such large cities as Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Poltava.
Access provides an opportunity for children aged 13-15 from low-income and socially vulnerable families, including displaced persons and young people with special needs, to increase their knowledge of the English language free of charge, to learn more about the United States of America, culture and values, to develop leadership skills and actively participate in the development of Ukraine. To become a participant in the program, you need to pass an interview, according to which students are selected. Training is carried out for 2-3 years, and upon completion all students will be issued certificates, as well as offering participation in other programs, for example, Flex (students exchange program). John Silver and Joseph Bookbinder told about it.
In October 2017, one group of 20 children had already started their first classes in the Access Program in the city of Starobilsk. Classes are designed for 360 hours (about 2 years) and will last until August 2019. The program participants are provided with textbooks for free. Within the framework of the program, an intensive training session will be held on the basis of a children’s camp during the summer holidays. Although candidates for the program do not need a high level of English language knowledge, they still need to confirm their overall proper success at school and motivation to learn.
There was a question: “Why is the program designed specifically for this age category?” John Silver confidently replies: “Our practice shows that it is very good and effective to work with children of this age. Because they are not loaded with exams or work, and therefore will have time to learn English.”
During the opening ceremony of the Access Program, students who successfully passed the selection were given letters from the US Embassy in Ukraine certifying their participation.
The children prepared congratulations and presents for the guests: a song and calendars made with their own hands, with photos of the city of Starobilsk. After the end of the official part of the event, students communicated with the guests. They shared their impressions of the event. According to them, it was unforgettable and very cool.
John Silver and Joseph Bookbinder thanked for the warm welcome and said that they would definitely return next year.
Olena Smitanina, Press Center of LTSNU