I am currently in Eugene on an ELAW Fellowship and nearing the end of my term at the University of Oregon’s American English Institute (AEI). I am a lawyer and have worked at Environment-People-Law (EPL) in Ukraine since 2007.
Thanks to ELAW, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and AEI, I am able to study English while collaborating on my work with ELAW staff. At EPL we provide legal support to protect human rights and the environment. My work focuses on access to information, climate change, forests, waterways, biodiversity, and protected areas.
English proficiency is important to me. It allows me to collaborate on my work with ELAW and use legal and scientific resources that are not available in Ukrainian or Russian.
One problem I am working on is the proposed construction of hundreds of small hydropower plants in the Carpathian Mountains. These projects would be dangerous for rivers, fish, and the forest, and violate the rights of local people. Here in Eugene, I have met weekly with ELAW staff and received their professional consultation on this problem.
My Intensive English Program at AEI is well organized and interesting. The teachers are highly qualified, including Peggy Dame, Lydia Shen, and Marko Mwipopo, who supervised my elective course.
Outside of class, AEI has weekly events to help students improve their English, including meeting with conversation partners, coffee hours, and volunteer work. My conversation partner is Brandon, a University of Oregon political science student who is thinking about law school and may one day volunteer at ELAW. While in Eugene, I’ve had the opportunity to do many things.
When I first arrived, I traveled with Professor John Bonine’s LLM students to Portland where we met with Columbia Riverkeeper, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and visited Smith Rock State Park. I later attended the graduation ceremony for these LLM students.
I have enjoyed attending Saturday Market and the Ukrainian Catholic Church. I toured Greenhill Humane Society, watched American football, and woke to raccoons playing in the trees outside my window.
In my last two weeks, in addition to my English studies and work with ELAW staff, I will visit local courts, learn more about recycling processes, and possibly travel to Seattle or Portland.
Thank you ELAW for hosting me, and to everyone who helped while I was here.