Last week our team went to Lutsk in order to represent the partnership between the USAID and Peace Corps through showing people what a Host Organization and their volunteer can do with a grant from what is called the Small Project Assistance (SPA) fund. These funds are available for Peace Corps Volunteers and host organizations who are interested in developing small projects aimed at increasing civic participation. The Center of Community Growth (CCG) used these funds to establish the Leadership Development Program(LDP) in Kovel and represented the success of this program alongside many other USAID funders.
At a planning meeting for this event a USAID representative asked us to come up with exercises for all ages. Something that could keep anyone entertained and went along with the mission of our program. We decided to have three separate stations. The first station gave children and adults the opportunity to paint. We had three different canvases at this station which had the theme of LDP. The superhero painting was for very small children and probably the most popular. We also had one with CCG’s and LDP’s logos. In between the logos was a pail of water to signify that LDP helps our community grow. The most important painting to me was what I like to call the “Partnership” painting, because it signified the partnership between Peace Corps and USAID through the SPA funds. Underneath the logos you will find the words every small step matters. This is a staple of the SPA program.
The next exercise we came up with was a survey for adults. This is the same survey we give to participants of LDP on their first day of training. It starts off by asking participants the simple age and gender, but becomes more intimate by asking participant four questions: (1) Do they know their strength as a leader, (2) do they use their strengths each day, (3) Are they aware of their weaknesses as a leader, (4) and do they attempt to improve their weaknesses each day? The results are as followed:
Much like the first time we conducted this survey, it is clear that people are not using their strengths on a daily basis. This is another example of why programs like LDP are important for Ukrainian communities. It is easy for people to talk about action. LDP’s mandate is to turn those thoughts into action.
For the simplest exercise we asked participants to write the most important leadership trait on a post-it shaped like an apple. We placed these apples on a big print out of our organizations logo. Our group felt a sense of pride seeing our logo covered with apples by the end of the day because this simple picture was an example of us carrying out our vision statement. As we later plucked the apples from the CCG logo our team smiled and stated, “This is a great harvest.” It was a touching moment. A couple days later we tallied the results of the over 100 apples and these are the top traits of a leader as stated by the citizens of the Volyn oblast: intelligence, honesty, confidence, teamwork and charisma.
Throughout the day, we developed as a team and realized the impact we have on our community. There is alot of work to be done in Ukraine, but this event was an example of what hard work can achieve if teams are able to trust each other and come together for a common goal. Together Everyone Accomplishes More
*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman, not those of Peace Corps or its affiliates.