The importance of getting to know Ukraine
arrow icon
Back

Topical

March 28, 2024

The importance of getting to know Ukraine

By Уляна Вітрак, a Ukrainian volunteer.

An important but often overlooked part of volunteering in Ukraine is seeing and learning about this country. I have met foreign volunteers who have been in Ukraine for a few weeks, and have only seen their accommodation, the kitchen, warehouse, or animal shelter where they volunteer, and the inside of a few restaurants.

As a Ukrainian, this makes me a bit sad. I want everyone to know how beautiful Ukraine is outside of this war. I believe the stories foreign volunteers bring home with them are important.

If the only memories visitors can share are of chopping vegetables or stacking boxes, this won’t inspire their friends and family to care about Ukraine (or visit!). It also won’t help them understand what Ukrainians are fighting to protect. So, I want to encourage everyone who comes here to volunteer, to also get to know Ukraine.

Live band playing in Lviv
Live band playing in Lviv by Уляна Вітрак

Things to do besides volunteering

Part of russia’s colonial strategy was and is repressing and erasing Ukrainian artists and stories. By experiencing and learning about our culture and history, and sharing this with the outside world, you help Ukraine fight russian colonialism.

See a Ukrainian artist or band

Ukraine has an incredible music scene (our Eurovision entries are just a taste!). Since the full-scale invasion, interest in Ukrainian artists has grown.

Concert.ua is a legitimate online ticket seller with events in cities all over Ukraine. Many artists donate some or all proceeds to Ukrainian charities, so you can support Ukraine and have a great time enjoying our culture.

Visit a theatre

Lviv, Kyiv, Odesa, and many other cities have magnificent historical opera and ballet theatres. Their repertoires include timeless hits such as Giselle and Don Juan, and new and classic Ukrainian operas and ballets such as Natalka Poltavka, Lilea, and Kateryna. Prices range from around 1000uah for the best seats on weekends, to around 100uah. Wherever you sit, you’ll experience a world-class performance and special atmosphere.

Interior of Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Interior of Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theatre by Уляна Вітрак
Check out a local market

Ukrainians do a lot of their shopping at markets (or bazaars), instead of shopping centres and supermarkets. Bazaars are great places to try local specialities- many regions have their own cheeses, meats, alcohols, and pickles- and buy souvenirs. It is best to ask a local for recommendations about bazaars.

Andriivskyi Descent market in Kyiv
Andriivskyi Descent market in Kyiv by Уляна Вітрак
Visit art galleries, museums, and historical sites

Ukraine has hundreds of years of incredible art and fascinating history, and every city has loads of museums, galleries, and churches for you to discover. Some of my favourites in Lviv are the Potocki Palace (19th century Rococo-style mansion and European art collection), Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life (open-air collection of traditional buildings from different regions in Ukraine), and the Armenian Cathedral (first built in around 1370, with haunting Art Deco frescos).

We have a blooming contemporary art scene too- check out YA Gallery in Lviv and Pinchuk Arts Centre in Kyiv.

The balance between volunteering and holiday-ing

Some foreign volunteers have told me they feel uncomfortable doing ‘holiday’ things in Ukraine when there is so much that needs to be done. I understand, as a Ukrainian I feel those things too. I am incredibly grateful for everyone who comes here to help.

Getting to know Ukrainian culture gives foreign volunteers valuable stories to bring home. These stories will help keep Ukraine alive in hearts all over the world, throughout this war and the rebuilding afterwards.

Recommended to read

view more
arrow icon
Arrow icon
All About Kyiv Kitchen Hub "Ants" - An Interview with the Founders
Volunteering Opportunities
Apr 16, 2024
All About Kyiv Kitchen Hub "Ants" - An Interview with the Founders

This article has been a long time in the preparation. In early February, I worked for a few days at the Kyiv Kitchen Hub "Ants" in Kyiv and met K and O, the two owners/principals. I promised K I would write about the kitchen, and we have been in intermittent correspondence ever since. I intend to use K’s own words as much as possible in a Q and A format. We have also talked to a guest volunteer to give potential volunteers some insight...

More details
arrow icon
Richard Woodruff, British volunteer: I will never leave Ukraine after what I experienced here
Topical
Mar 2, 2024
Richard Woodruff, British volunteer: I will never leave Ukraine after what I experienced here

Interview with British volunteer Richard Woodruff by Olena Kolhusheva from Ukrinform.

More details
arrow icon
Volunteering in Ukraine in winter: A Guide for Volunteers to Preparing for the Cold Season
Practical Information
Nov 27, 2023
Volunteering in Ukraine in winter: A Guide for Volunteers to Preparing for the Cold Season

Volunteering in Ukraine during the cold season presents unique challenges, so it's essential for volunteers to prepare...

More details
arrow icon
Read more
arrow icon