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Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch - A Luncheon with World Affairs Council

Updated: Jan 2

On November 30th, Davidson Green School eighth graders were gifted the unique opportunity to attend a luncheon honoring Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine. In the weeks preceding, our students learned a bit about Ukraine, Ambassador Yovanovitch, and the ongoing war with Russia. And while I know they felt excitement about the fancy food and the formal environment and the chance to sit near such esteemed diplomats, the words they heard from both the Ambassador and the visiting dignitaries from Ukraine left a deeper sense of understanding and empathy for Ukrainians around the world. Rather than reading my perspective, I asked Claire, Oliver, and Addie to share pieces of their reflections after our experience.

Claire: A part that stood out to me was when Marie Yovanovitch was talking about how the media affected the conflict. When we look into the media, we usually look for things that we want to see, and we don't always look for the real things. The truth is that if we want to make a change then we need to acknowledge the problem first. 

One particular moment that really stood out to me was when Representative Galyna Mykhailiuk was giving her speech about the children and families in Ukraine. I think the reason it stuck out to me so much was because she was nearly killed in Ukraine. So it was coming from someone who had experienced this first hand. The only reason she lived was because of America's funds and donations. Ukrainians will fight their own fight but we are helping when we give them donations. She still lives in Ukraine but traveled to America to spread the word and bring recognition to conflict.

Oliver: Something that stood out to me was that Marie Yovanovitch is a citizen by choice. That stood out to me because it’s something that I didn't choose, and I think having that choice or making that choice is something that not many people get. I feel like getting that choice is really special since you are just a citizen by birth most of the time.

A takeaway that I got from the speech is that Russia is trying to take Ukrainian culture away. Basically trying to erase them only because Ukraine doesn’t want to be a part of or follow Russian rules. So Ukraine is fighting for their own identity.

Marie said that rights equal responsibility, and that she said that as a citizen of the United States she has a responsibility to help others in the community. What rights equal responsibility means to me is that if you have rights in your country then you do have a responsibility to help out and make sure the people in your own community are safe and healthy.

Addie: Marie Yovanovitch's speech was absolutely incredible, but the speech that truly stood out to me was Galyna Mykhailiuk's speech. She was a Ukrainian woman who spoke about her life in Ukraine. She lived in Ukraine, and there were several instances where she could have been killed. Her story was thought provoking and made the audience feel extreme empathy. She told her story beautifully, I think the message in her speech was that Ukraine needs all the help it can get so that Russia doesn't engulf them. The more territory/land Russia has, the more powerful it will become. 

The two speeches had kind of a theme, which was that Ukraine desperately does need help.

Thank you again to the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for including students in the conversations and allowing our young people to engage with both community and global leaders. As our students grapple with global challenges, these interactions create positive ripples. We are grateful and look forward to a continued relationship with WACC.

Our group, including my son and his friend, left to right: Patricia, Oliver, Claire, Addie, Colton, Kelly, and Derek

Claire got to ask a question!

Ambassador Yovanovitch answering an audience question

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