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Practicing Resilience: UCU students take part in international summer school in Croatia

A summer school called Practicing Resilience. Preparing for Recovery was held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, as part of a partnership of UCU, the University of Notre Dame (USA), and the Catholic University of Croatia. For two weeks, 20 students of Ukrainian Catholic University developed projects focusing on the recovery of Ukraine after the war.

Summer school participants in Croatia

There were 35 students at the school, from Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Georgia. Experts from the USA, Belgium, Croatia and Italy taught at the school.

The main idea of the school, Practicing Resilience. Preparing for Recovery, is to create an international forum for cooperation and initiatives of students of Catholic universities not only on the administrative but also on the community and personal levels. Study in a peaceful environment, together with the experience of war, can become the most successful combination for thorough development of concepts for postwar recovery, said the organizers of the initiative. Also, the mission of the summer school aimed at the integrated development of participants and fostering a spirit of community and solidarity.

“The theme of the school was born from the current geopolitical situation which we are now experiencing, this is vitality, future recovery. We also focused the main accents around the situation in Ukraine. During the lectures, practical assignments and master-classes, we discussed psychological aspects and social dimensions of resilience, on the individual, community and institutional levels. The lecturers centered their talks on social sciences: sociology, culture studies, psychology, and the communication of trauma, and also a strong theological element, study of how faith becomes a resource for resilience in moments of crisis,” explained the coordinator of the project from UCU, Nataliya Yakymets, assistant director of academic questions of UCU’s International Institute for Ethics and Contemporary Issues.

The delegation of UCU students was the largest, with 20 people out of the 35 participants. As part of the school, each student developed his or her own practical project searching for certain methodologies which will foster the future recovery of Ukraine. In general, the student groups focused on four areas to research: education, culture studies, communication, and social projects.

Darya Ahafonova, a second-year student in the Ethics-Politics-Economics Bachelor’s Program, took part in the school. She developed a project dedicated to the organization of lessons in ethics and morality in primary school on the level of living practices and the methodology for forming certain moral qualities from the youngest age.

“The summer school in Dubrovnik was the best thing that happened to me lately. For these beautiful two weeks I studied shoulder to shoulder with students from Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, and Georgia, and teachers from the USA, Belgium, Croatia, and Italy. This summer school was not simply an academic center but a space for personal development. The students and teachers exchanged knowledge and experience, and not for a day did they avoid the theme of the war in Ukraine. During the whole school, we Ukrainian students received unbelievable support from our foreign friends. They constantly asked for details about what is happening now and how they could help and spread information about Ukraine. I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of this summer school, which assembled an international community. We received much support from our colleagues, and this is now very valuable for Ukraine,” said the student.

The initiative of holding the summer school arose as part of CUP – Catholic Universities Partnership. Three colleges organized the initiative: the Nanovic Institute for European Studies of the University of Notre Dame (USA), the Catholic University of Croatia, and Ukrainian Catholic University.


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