Hackaton Bridge - Poland to Ukraine: the opportunity to build something together

| Koło Aktywności-Polska&Ukraina

In June was launched a new Ukrainian-Polish project for talented and active young people - Hackaton Bridge - Poland to Ukraine. Creativity, talent and support combining the best young professionals between the two countries - the focus of this initiative. How the process is built, which atmosphere around the project interesting within Koło Aktywności-Polska&Ukraina, we spoke with coordinator of Hackaton Bridge Kateryna Berezovska.




Does the project Hackathon Bridge have before story ?

The initiator and patron of the Project Hackathonbridge is Michal Boni, Member of European Parliament. Together with his team he decided to create such initiation after the visit of Ukrainian non-governmental representatives to Poland at the beginning of 2014.

Actions at Maydan, quite peaceful at that time, showed that public society is the key-factor for the changes in Ukraine. And that energy, which people already have, needs to be properly directed, directed to the development of their country. Moreover, Poland, as a country, which is successfully went through necessary time of reforms, has the opportunity and the will to share its experience and to help Ukraine. That was the reason to launch such international project under the support of Member of European Parliament firstly In this part of the world.

At present what is the current situation with project development? What is already done and what are the future steps?

For the next two weeks we are focused on the creation of HB Ambassador's  network. It consists of people, who are able to represent the project, assist in completing the form if necessary and possibly even share their ideas in order to get 10 000 euro. This is the most valuable and precious experience – to participate in the project from its very beginning. Moreover, the best Ambassadors get the references from Michal Boni, our patron, and an opportunity to see how the European Parliament in Brussels works, to get so called “behind the scene” experience. To my mind, huge advantage of this project is transparency at the very stage of this process.  The only thing which we need from our potential Ambassadors is to send their C.V.s and to participate in the competition via completing quite simple form, available at hackathonbrdige.com. 

We have also created the Independent Jury for the winners decision. Among them there are such famous people as Waldemar Dziki, film director, Oksana Zabuzhko, writer, Vadim Rogovskiy, founder of on-line advertising platform, Oleksandr Stryzhak, Small Academy of Science of Ukraine, Volodymyr Schmidt, IAB Polska, Beata Chmiel, Institute of Cinema Art of Poland, and Vlad Troitski, the founder of well-known GogolFest.

What are the main challenges or difficulties you have faced with Hackathon Bridgе?

As every new project (and just to remind that this is the only first edition of HB) we do everything from zero, i.e. from the very beginning. Evidently, it would be impossible without previous experience and huge self-organization of our team. The main goal is to support active people. To support those, who need financial and/or mentoring support to make their real ideas true. From the other side, it is very interesting project, which doesn't make any frames for the participants. It was quite difficult to start in Ukraine. War has always been quite costly affair for any country, particularly for their citizens. It's quite difficult to follow your goal at the conditions as such. But, from another point of view, nothing will change if you change nothing. People not always are involved into the decision-making process at the governmental level. Such decisions are delegated to the power representatives. But for each person, the Hackathonbridge – is! the opportunity to express himself and create something  own.   Moreover, at the international level.

One of the difficulty for us is to join two communities. For Polish the amount of 10 000 EURO is relatively small, at the same time for Ukrainians – it is quite reasonable support. Ukraine is in two times bigger with territory in comparison with Poland. But living standards are higher. To compare with Ukraine, Poland is at several steps further in its development process and ordinary Polish citizen has an access to many international grants. At the same time, to get any EU for Ukraine means to have the EU country-member as a partner. It is quite important for us to build that bridge of cooperation between Poland and Ukraine.

Mental difference is also quite visible. Polish are more focused on the finalization of the task, in comparison with Ukrainians. And usual Ukrainian is involved into different tasks at the same time and it is quite difficult to finish at least one of them successfully. The efforts is the key-condition to fulfil the task.  

 Partnership network — what were the criteria to the partners selection... And what is the task for each of the partners?

This is the Polish-Ukrainian project, so the partnership network has been created taking into account our bilateral partnership. Thanks to our Ukrainian partner – Charitable Fund “Svichado” such educational institutions as Kyiv Politechnical University, Kievo-Mogylanska Academy, National University named after T. Shevchenko got awared with the competition. 

Thanks to the Open Dialog Foundation, several press-conferences, meetings with students and other activities have been conducted both, in Warsaw and in Kyiv cities.

At present, taking into account the volume of the information, which is available, the most important thing is to be able to “use” it properly, for your own development.


Participants are the people, willing to show their knowledge and creativity. Can you say that there are more opportunities for such young people at present?

My personal statement: opportunities are always available. The most important thing is to use them. To have such willing. You might notice, that Hackathonbridge has  wide area of projects spheres. Here you can find business, society development and culture. Moreover, except age (the participants must not be older than 28 years) and territorial (Polish-Ukrainian composition of the team) requirements, there are no other limitations at all. The main is the Idea.

Waldemar Dziki, famous film director and producer, thinks that Ukraine is a particular and specific country. And Poland has to be very careful with its experience promotion. This question is quite important in Ukraine, as many Polish experts are involved into different working groups with the development of reforms... What do you hear about that in your project areas?

At present Ukraine is in difficult situation. Everybody knows about that, everybody talks about that as well. It was so scary, going home through Maidan, to see the barricades, weapon, armored jackets, and masks, to feel uncontrolled danger. And chaos. East is completely destroyed by separatists, people are losing their homes and jobs. Daily, I receive the pictures of those places, where your friends have been living only few month ago. And you understand that it is not the historical video-recording of your country. It is something that is going on today.

As I’ve been mentioned, Poland is twice smaller with its territory comparing to Ukraine. But, if we take into account the number of citizens, there is only 7 mln of difference. Just moved to Warsaw, I felt the Warsowians’ honor. After the Second World War the city has been destroyed almost completely. Instead of one million of city with its own history of several centuries, the Germans have been planning to create small town with 100 thousand habitants only. Everything, that was built during the hundreds of years, was absolutely destroyed, not taking into account the will of people, living there. It's even impossible to imagine. And Polish society is very proud  that Warsaw exists again. Lives again. It is worth to rest on. Ukrainian society has already made its huge step, expressing its consciousness and testifying its needs. As the experience of Poland shows, the country needs to stand on its feet independently. Polish experts support Ukraine with huge will. Taking into account their “previous baggage”, territorial and mental similarity.

Nevertheless, they are not able to decide instead of other country, having no right for that. At the very first time, the system needs to be built internally, in the country itself. To my mind, this is the meaning of the “carefulness” with Polish experience implementation. Experience can be adapted, it can be expressed and shared, but the decision need to be internal. And the responsibility as well.

 What is the attitude of Polish society to Ukraine today?

I see the danger to live at the Eastern part of Ukraine. The situation influences on everything.  Even if at the first sight when Kyiv is considered to be calm, level of inflation, delays with salary payments, high unemployment level, which is mentioned by UNIAN – all these things are so evident, and making the situation in the country very complicated. Of course, the number of „safe” tourists have been increased because of cheap staying in Ukraine. But the number of Ukrainians, willing to leave the country has been increased as well. According to the data of Mazowietski Urząd the number of applicants for the permanent stay permission has been increased up to 50% in comparison with the last year.

In Poland the impression about Ukraine is quite limited, It has been created by relatively cheap working source, by the people, coming for seasonal or building work. The most part of Polish entrepreneurs don't risqué to start their businesses in Ukraine, not taking into account that IT-specialists, for example, are quite popular abroad because of high professionally level and relatively low salaries. Not everybody knows about Mystetski Arsenal, GogolFest or PinchukArtCenter. Some people even refused to provide the rental apartments to Ukrainians, being afraid that they are refugees. It is extremely necessary to create such common projects. To create wider understanding of the country, as a state, focusing on its advantages.

 Are there particular activities/changes in the project, taking into account unstable situation in Ukraine?...and in Poland as well?

From the very start, young people had 3 month to prepare their ideas, and complete the form at the web-site. Taking into account, that the project has been launched at the beginning of June, it was very useful and creative to use summer vacation time especially for that. The very first change within the project, was to postpone the deadlines. It was connected to the difficulties within the situation in Ukraine. Only during August the number of died people has been increased in twice with the total number of 2 thousand.

It was evident, that the most acute need was to organize medical and humanitarian support to the wounded one. And we need to adapt to the environmental changes.

That was the reason to postpone the deadline for the projects till the 30-th of October, first of all to direct the efforts to the most acute needs, to give the opportunity for more number of people to attend and got the support. From the organizers’ point of view, we hold our responsibilities: projects, which are going to get the financial support, will be announced in a month. And we are available for our winners during three month period with our experience, professional support, advises and simply for inspiration, if it will be necessary.

We do hope that the situation in Ukraine at least will be stabilized. It will allow us to make “fresh breath”, evaluate our efforts and start to build ourselves from the very beginning. Lego cubes have been chosen as a symbol of HackathonBridge project with its particular goal – this is the opportunity to build something new. Something, that will be useful for both countries, facilitate development and strengthen our partnership, creating mutual understanding and support.


Alla Prun for Koło Aktywności-Polska&Ukraina

Elin  |  12-44-2015
Ils faut leurs donner une cahnce de s\'inte9grer, mais dans un monde hostile cela parait difficile. La France sera t-elle e0 la hauteur de ces engagements pour le G20 ??
Nurin  |  13-18-2015
Yes of course it does. We soluhd not be mixing economy with peace making. We can have extensive debates on whether the EU is or not responsible for the current economic crisis but that\'s a completely different matter. The prize awarded today is for mantaining peace in Europe and I believe it\'s needless to remind all of us of the numerous armed conflicts between and amongst European countries over the past centuries (including but not limited to WWI and WWII) that took the lives of millions of Europeans. The EU has put an end to that, and whether we like or not its other policies, we soluhd be greatful for not being still killing one another.
Alexandru  |  14-03-2015
Or the austerity is alsomt exactly the same as would be forced on them anyway except the national governments are full of servile cowards seeking to blame the EU instead of accepting responsibility. At least as part of the EU and the Eurozone there is the potential for a brighter future. Rather than being the divided and ruled backwater of the current and emerging superpowers. http://lvxsiyoaoo.com [url=http://smghxibm.com]smghxibm[/url] [link=http://ctzsayqojd.com]ctzsayqojd[/link]
Tamber  |  21-24-2016
IMHO you've got the right anwesr!
Polly  |  21-18-2016
I was struck by the hosenty of your posting