Freshman ‘goes global’ with volunteer project in Ukraine


The Lund Family

In 2016, Freshman Yana Lund's brother and father traveled to Ukraine to volunteer. This year. it's Yana's turn. "The idea is to create an interaction between the volunteer who is going to model English language for their school," Mr. Lund said. "Then when we go to the school, we implement those different games and interactions to the students."

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While the majority of students start their summer on vacation or relaxing with friends, Freshman Yana Lund will start hers volunteering in Ukraine.

At the end of May, Lund will travel to Ukraine to inspire and educate kids, along with helping distribute PHS shirts her family collected earlier in the year. Lund’s family has strong ties to the country because her mother is from Ukraine, and her brother and father volunteered through the same organization as Lund in 2016.

“It’s called GoGlobal,” Lund said. “Basically that was the initiative to teach Ukrainian kids English because that is such an important language. Volunteers from all over the world come to expose kids to different languages. I will be an American ambassador.”

Her father Brian Lund said she already volunteers in her community and through the youth ministry, but she looks to expand her experience.

“We heard about this GoGlobal program, and it was an exciting opportunity to go overseas and to learn about new cultures and engage with other people from around the world,” Mr. Lund said. “When you have an opportunity to travel globally, it opens your eyes to world problems and it gives you a different perspective than if you stay in your own community.”

Before traveling to communities in Ukraine, GoGlobal volunteers undergo training in Kiev where they interact and talk with other volunteers from around the world.

“During the training, we learn about different teaching methods,” Mr. Lund said. “The idea is to create an interaction between the volunteer who is going to model English language for their school. Then when we go to the school we implement those different games and interactions to the students. The goal is to inspire them to continue to learn English, so they engage, and want to engage more with the rest of the world and Western culture.”

Lund’s brother Mike participates in arts and crafts alongside fellow volunteers and students. Mike and Mr. Lund traveled to Ukraine in 2016 through GoGlobal. When Lund travels to Ukraine in May, she will lead similar activities. Photograph shared by The Lund Family.

In 2014, Russian forces invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Since the invasion, tensions and conflicts have prevailed.

“I think it has affected everybody, but it has really affected the kids in Eastern Ukraine,” Lund said. “There are GoCamps set up in that part of Ukraine where you can hear explosions. That’s how kids live. They go to school with that.”

When Lund’s brother and father traveled to Ukraine in 2016, they brought shirts from the community. This year, the family plans on doing the same. They brought in hundreds of donated shirts and received donations from Simply Southern.

“One of the things we have done as a family is seek donations of new and sometimes used t-shirts from our community, and we bring those with us during the trip, and we give them out to the kids during the camp,” Mr. Lund said. “Part of the story is Yana will be sharing with them as she’s leading different activities and talking about how she’s from this community in Prosper, Texas, so here’s a t-shirt from my high school there. So, it’s a nice connection.”

Earlier in the year, Yana contacted Principal John Burdett, who organized shirt donations with groups at PHS.

“Anytime students are giving back to others, that’s always pleasing to know that we do that,” Burdett said. “She’s giving back to others who are not as fortunate us. That’s one of the principles. It’s apart of our graduate profile, being a well-rounded and community-oriented student.”

When it comes to volunteering, Mr. Lund said it’s better to give than to receive.

“Expressing your interest in somebody else from around the world, showing that you care about them and what’s happening in their country, which is under a lot of stress with Russia invading Eastern Ukraine and having too much influence in the country,” Lund said. “We are reaching out and saying ‘we care about you and Ukraine’s future, and so that’s a good feeling to have that connection with them.”

Lund’s mother is from Ukraine, and she has extended family who lives there, but she hasn’t traveled to the country since a young age.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture because I feel like it’s a part of me that I never got to experience,” Lund said. “I have no idea what to expect.”