How can Ukraine more effectively explain its policies to the global community?  What tools and strategies can be employed to enhance and promote Ukraine’s image abroad? How can Ukrainians best showcase their achievements, stories and culture around the world? These and related questions were the focus of a Ukrainian public diplomacy delegation that visited Washington under the auspices of the Open World Leadership Center.

The members of the delegation were Volodymyr Riznichenko (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine), Olha Nakonechna and Tetiana Vasylenko (Hennadii Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine), Iryna Prokofieva and Oleksandr Vynogradov (Ukrainian Institute), and Olena Kotsur (American Councils for International Education, Kyiv). Their trip was administered by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) in cooperation with American Councils.

The group held discussions regarding public diplomacy in the foreign policy and political realm with Nicholas Kazvini-Gore (Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s office), Nadia K. McConnell, Robert McConnell and Orest Deychakiwsky (USUF), Stacy Hope and Mark Toner (Helsinki Commission), Jonathan Katz and Sydney Simon (German Marshall Fund), and Martin Caudron (Delegation of the European Union to the United States). The Ukrainian visitors also met with Vivian Walker of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, U.S. State Department colleagues in the Office of Public Diplomacy and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as with former public diplomacy diplomats Tania Chomiak-Salvi and Mary Kruger.

The Ukrainian public diplomacy delegation addresses students and faculty at American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington, DC. (Credit: Paul Manuel)

The Ukrainian delegates also had meetings with Samantha Peterson and Susan Cleary of the Office of International Relations of the Smithsonian Institution and with Kevin Blossfeld of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Alliance for Ukraine – during which opportunities for future collaboration were discussed.  Stanislav Khristenko, renown classical pianist and artistic director of the Kharkiv Music Fest talked about the challenges of promoting Ukrainian classical music and musicians internationally.  Professor Jennifer Brinkerhoff (George Washington University) described her research regarding the creation of an “enabling environment” for diaspora participation in native homeland development.

At the invitation of Professor Jim Quirk, the Ukrainian delegation spoke to an engaging audience of about 100 students and faculty members at American University. The group also met with journalists of the Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service.

Visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Newseum, the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Gallery of Art provided the public diplomacy delegation with new insights for presenting Ukrainian history, culture and arts.

The US-Ukraine Foundation honored the delegation of Ukrainian public diplomacy professionals with a ceremony at the Embassy of Ukraine, marking the completion of their Open World Leadership Center exchange program. (Credit: Embassy of Ukraine)

The program concluded on November 22nd with a ceremony at the Embassy of Ukraine in Georgetown hosted by Charge d’Affaires Andrii Yanevskyi and other diplomats, including Yaroslav Brisiuck, Vladyslava Bondarenko and Natalia Solyeva.

Photo at top of page: The Ukrainian delegation visits the Delegation of the European Union to the USA.

VOA Ukrainian Service interview with Iryna Prokofieva, Head of the Programming Department of the Ukrainian Institute [in Ukrainian]: