Marta Pyvorarenko has used her Open World Leadership Program exchange experience to help her country heal in the wake of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. After attending a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) seminar at Yale University’s School of Medicine during her exchange to Connecticut, she returned home to lead efforts to reduce PTSD, which has increased dramatically since 2014. Her organization, the Development Foundation, implemented a series of activities to promote best international and U.S. practices for diagnosing and treating PTSD, and to develop and administer rehabilitation initiatives and social adjustment programs. These activities included trainings for psychologists, social workers, doctors, volunteers, and community activists, as well as assistance programs and art therapy classes for veterans and their families, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by PTSD.
Marta has continued to foster exchange between the United States and Ukraine by conducting a large number of Skype conferences between Ukrainian psychologists and their American colleagues from the Yale School of Medicine. Most recently, she collaborated with an Associate Professor at Wesleyan University to develop and implement trainings on alleviating the effects of trauma on victims of war. Her work has united exchange alumni from many different programs who have attended her presentations and activities at the American House in Kyiv, Ukraine. Many of these alumni have been inspired to start projects of their own.
Her leadership abilities and passion for volunteerism led her NGO to receive a small grant from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to develop volonter.org, an analogue of the U.S. site volunteermatch.org. This web platform enables outreach to existing volunteer groups and serves as a means for volunteer organizations to update local communities and volunteers about their efforts. Any volunteer, group, or NGO can register on the website or advertise for a cause.
Marta has truly made an impact in her community and country. Her work has brought together doctors, civil society leaders, volunteers of all backgrounds, and many others. She has supported the needs of Ukrainian people negatively affected by war, violence, and insecurity. Finally, she has inspired other alumni to work towards peace, security, and change.
Each month, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Marta Pyvorarenko is this month’s outstanding alumna, and her work will be recognized throughout December on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official website which serves more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.