Brave Generation

In Conversation with Slava Vakarchuk of Okean Elzy about the importance of the Brave Generation

Copy The speech was about the difficult experience of the creator of Brave Generation, the strength of the Ukrainian people, the importance of our program and its successes.

Our founder and CEO, Tanya Kotelnykova, delivered a talk on May 22nd at “In Conversation with Slava Vakarchuk of Okean Elzy” at the Harriman Institue of Columbia University. She was invited by Columbia Global Centers, for being the recipient of Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students, to deliver a brief overview of Brave Generation before the moderated conversation with special guest Slava Vakarchuk.

She took the opportunity to explain how BraveGeneration’s founding and official incorporation stemmed from her personal experience as a victim of two wars—Russia’s invasion in 2014 and again in 2022—and her subsequent pursuit of education at Columbia, on scholarship. The hardships in her life—coupled with the opportunity to further my education abroad—inspired me to start this program. In a matter of months, through the avid efforts of our mentors, she has helped 25 students acquire full scholarships abroad, securing around $2 million dollars in scholarship funding—in the spirit of helping Ukrainian youth and better securing the reconstruction of her country.

In her speech, she emphasized that education for 5.7 million Ukrainian youth has been disrupted, and that 1.5 million children face mental health challenges, given Russia’s war of aggression (according to UNICEF). On top of this, nearly 20 thousand children have been deported or abducted to Russia in the Kremlin’s strategic attempt to try to deprive Ukraine of its future generation. With this in mind, she prompted: if we do not equip young Ukranians now—who will rebuild Ukraine?

As a call to action to her audience, she affirmed: “This war has shown us that we are resilient. After 9 years, after the last 15 months, we Ukrainians are still not intimidated, nor can our minds be changed. Ukraine will prevail because the rising leaders will be ready to have difficult diplomatic conversations, to rebuild, and help the violence cease forever to ensure a long, just peace for Ukraine and the world. So I challenge you to join us, because if everyone can help one young person now, we can save a generation. Let's ensure that those tasked with the future of Ukraine are not only those with its best interest at heart, but that they are well-supported.” It is BraveGeneration’s job to ensure that.

Special thanks to Mark Andryczuk of Harriman Institue, Dora Chomiak from Razom for Ukraine, Columbia University’s Italian Academy, Columbia Global Centers, and all attendees for making this event possible.