A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
Iryna is from Ukraine and became part of the PTPI family in 2011 when she attended PTPI's Peace Camp program in Turkey. She recently traveled to Utah, USA to visit friends and longtime PTPI members Bill and Carol, whom she met through PTPI. We asked her to tell us more about herself and how PTPI has made a difference in her life:
Tell us how you became involved with PTPI, and how you met Bill and Carol:
I found out about Peace Camp through a friend in Ukraine. At the time I had just returned to Ukraine after one year as a FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) student in the U.S. My exchange year was a truly life changing experience and I was looking for ways to travel more and further develop my understanding of other cultures. So, I decided to apply for Peace Camp. A few weeks later I got a call from the People to People International office saying that I was invited to attend the Peace Camp in Turkey in June of 2011.
I spent the next several months communicating with other students invited to Peace Camp through Facebook and looking forward to our trip to Turkey. On my first day at Peace Camp I was somewhat worried because I was not sure if I would be able to find anything in common with people who came from 22 other countries. However, I soon discovered that we had quite a few similarities despite our differences. I had a great time getting to know other students and adults at Peace Camp.
One of the most interesting people I met at Peace Camp was Bill. We had a chance to talk and get to know each other and stayed friends after we left Turkey. We have been communicating through email for over three years and now I am visiting Bill and his wife Carol in Utah. I have been having a great time here, and I am very happy to have this friendship that has so wonderfully developed from PTPI’s Peace Camp.
What have you been doing since you participated in PTPI’s Peace Camp?
One of the most important effects of PTPI’s Peace Camp on my life was that it strongly influenced my choice of university. After I had truly experienced diversity at Peace Camp, I wanted to live in a diverse environment for a longer time. So, I decided to apply to New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi, where the students come from over a hundred different countries. After being accepted I spent two years studying in Abu Dhabi. I am currently third-year student spending my semester abroad at NYU in New York City. I am studying psychology and music.
Why is the mission of PTPI important to you and to your life goals?
The mission of PTPI is important to me because it has had strong impact on my life. My experience with PTPI has inspired me to continue to learn about other cultures and gain better understanding of the world. I would advise younger people to take every opportunity they can to travel and explore other cultures, because these experiences are likely to change their lives in the ways nothing else can.
We have 23,700 members around the world, and each has a story to tell. Discover the drives, dreams and ambitions of our PTPI network members, and then share your story with us. It’s how we break down barriers to peace and understanding.
Thank you for your ongoing support for our mission at People to People International. We, as a whole, continue to strive to live up to the legacy of world peace. But every day we make a choice to make a difference. That difference cannot be made without you and your contributions. Only together can we create everlasting peace and only together can we strive for and achieve greatness.
Merrill Eisenhower Atwater joined People to People International as the Chief Operating Officer in January 2018 and in April of that same year, he became Chief Executive Officer.