I am Simon, 21 years old and at the moment I am living in Germany. The last 12 months I spent for a voluntary service in Kyiv, worked for an ukrainian NGO and taught German to students. Soon I will start to study Eastern European Studies in the city of Potsdam.

When I came to Ukraine I didn´t knew the language, even though I was able to read it a bit, because I already knew some Russian. After some weeks, I took the decision to start learning Ukrainian, because it touched my everyday life in so many ways, starting from street signs and billboards in Ukrainian to Ukrainian folk dance, which was, of course, mainly taught in Ukrainian.

I got to know the Institute via Internet, where I was looking for possibilities to learn Ukrainian as a foreigner. I came for a lesson with my friend and we were positively impressed by the engagement and the happiness the students showed to teach us their language. I like the informal and unforced atmosphere at the lessons and speaking club meetings. The teachers and volunteers are always willing to explain any case and difficulty to you. It´s great job by them!

Often it was hard to find time for doing homework, but I guess that´s a general problem. Sometimes the exceptions and false friends of translator (in the Russian language) were hard to understand and to remember.In general I really like and often laugh about words in Ukrainian, that probably once where taken from the German language. It´s very funny to hear words like tzukor, dakh or likhtar. So, now I associate Ukrainian with phrases: “It´s a separate language!(not just something between Polish and Russian)”, “Sounds nice!”, “Has a lot of exceptions”, “Opens Ukraine for you” and “Very interesting to learn!”.

I highly regard your initiative to improve the Ukrainian language of foreigners through volunteer activity. I hope number of your students will constantly rise, so that more and more people will get to know about you. I guess the Internet is a very good mean to spread information about you and your activities. But maybe it could be a good idea to go directly to the universities to recruit new students.

To sum up, I have a little piece of advice for the newcomers – don´t give up! Ukrainian will help you not only to survive, but to get deeper insight into people and regions all over Ukraine.