“A Dream Come True” – Ukrainian Students Travel to Bulgaria for Digital Summer School


Three Ukrainian children took part in a summer school in Bulgaria after World ORT facilitated their departure from the war-affected country to join peers for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity learning vital digital skills.

Their arduous journey took more than 24 hours as they crossed thousands of kilometers by road and then rail from their Ukrainian home cities, first across the border to Poland and then by plane to Sofia.

Natan, from Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region, and Ihor, from Kyiv ORT Educational Complex #141 – both aged 15 – and 16-year-old Polina, who travelled furthest from the ORT school in Zaporizhzhia, took part in the World ORT Digital Skills Academy.

The two-week program deepens ORT students’ experience in photography, video and audio production taught by highly-skilled professionals. Natan studied video editing, Polina took an audio production course, and Ihor focused on photography skills.

Anna Chumakova, an ORT Ukraine staff member based in Kyiv, joined the trio on the journey and at the camp. She said: “The kids were so excited to take part. Combining the opportunity to have a distraction from life at home and the constant air raids with the chance to learn so much and have this priceless experience, was really an amazing thing.”

Polina in the recording studio (Credit World ORT)

During the camp Polina played guitar and recorded a Ukrainian song – about hope and the future – in a professional-standard recording studio. A fellow student attending the summer school from Lithuania filmed the experience and created a short video for social media:

Polina said: “The summer school was an opportunity for me to distract myself from the reality of life in Ukraine – and to gain a lot of new knowledge to help build my future career. We worked so enthusiastically on our projects and attained a really high level.


Polina at the summer school (Credit World ORT)

“The camp had an atmosphere of peace, mutual support and friendship. It was a place where dreams could come true. I had always dreamed of recording a song in a professional studio – I was so pleased we recorded a Ukrainian song, it was very important for me. I have a lot of precious memories from this summer school.”

Ihor’s work featured experimental approaches to the use of light in photography and images of his fellow camp participants:

He said: “Thank you to the new friends and teachers who were with us all the time. I had a lot of fun and I’ll remember this – the memories will stay in my heart.”

Since the start of the war almost 18 months ago, World ORT staff and supporters have worked tirelessly to support the thousands of ORT Ukraine students, teachers, staff and their families affected by the violence.

Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “Natan, Ihor and Polina have had a life-changing opportunity – gaining valuable digital skills that will give them a head-start as they look to build their careers in digital industries. This is at the heart of what ORT has done for more than 140 years. Adapting to ensure we continue this provision during a time of conflict is something that brings me and our professional team enormous pride.”

Ms Chumakova added: “We are very grateful to the camp organizers from Sofia and from World ORT in London for their work, the effort they put in to making this possible and for this priceless opportunity to create a new generation of Ukrainians with the skills they need to progress in life.”