The EDYN Award Finalists – Get to know them better Members

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The European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) gives The EDYN Award as the highest recognition to individuals and organizations whose extraordinary work aligns with EDYN’s mission to defend freedom and fundamental human rights, refrain from hate speech in all forms, collaborate across the ideological and political spectrum, and create a more inclusive, transparent, accountable, ethical, and environmentally conscious society.

Because we finally know the names of our 4 finalists, we asked each one of them 3 questions and the person who nominated them why they did it, so you get to know them a little bit better. 

 

CRISTINA VORONEANU

  1. What is your full-time job/ What do you do for a living?

In 2017 together with the alumni of the NDI youth program ”Challenger” we founded the organization ”Primăria Mea” (eng. My City Hall), based on the project with the same name launched a year earlier. Since 2017 I have worked at ”Primăria Mea” in various capacities – researcher, project manager, advocacy and monitoring coordinator etc. In the fall of 2022 I joined the team of NDI Moldova, with whom I have cooperated on several projects since 2019.

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

I really struggled with this question. After careful consideration, I would say loyal, perseverant and optimistic.

  1. According to you, how to be a better person/ how can one become a better person?

In my opinion, the world will be a better place if we all would try to do more than we have to. It doesn’t have to be our best, just a bit more than we are required to. To make an extra effort to be helpful to our neighbours and colleagues, to listen more attentively to what we are told rather than focus on what to reply, to exercise self-awareness regularly and try to understand how those around us feel when they face the same struggles as we do. Changing the world can start with the initiative or idea of one person, but it’s a joint daily effort.

Olga Scuela: During her LC mandate, Cristina was very proactive and pursued an open, transparent and equidistant policy towards all ambassadors/members of the EDYN network from Moldova. She always promoted an active rhythm of local involvement of everyone and showed her position as a firm and confident leader. She brilliantly represented us at all high-ranking meetings, both local and international. Her communication is always open and direct, which made us always informed and connected with each other. 

Cristina is a true fighter for democracy at her home and promotes free expression and the freedoms of the citizens of the municipality. She is focused on a collaborative way of communication with the local public authorities, regardless of the color of the political parties of the public officials, and it always focuses on the beneficial results for the inhabitants of the city. She always proved and promoted in her activities and actions transparency, inclusion, moral ethics, the good of society and the environment around her. Cristina fully deserves this title and award, and we will follow her example of democracy and inclusion in everything that follows, she is a democratic and upright person.

 

DEJANA STOSIC

  1. What is your full-time job/ What do you do for a living?

I am human rights educator, mostly on subjects such as gender-based violence, gender equality and youth empowerment. Currently, I am a program coordinator for democracy in Youth Initiative for Human Rights.  

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

I would describe myself as educator, feminist and activist.

  1. According to you, how to be a better person/ how can one become a better person?

It is just an effort to be better today than we were yesterday. We cannot expect the world to change for better if we don’t change ourselves first. As my favourite quote from Doctor Who says “We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one.” So just try to be better, do better, and be the change you want to see. And lastly, be free to be yourself, don’t hide or try to fit into a pattern. Be you.

Aleksandar Savic: Dejana is 24 years old activist from Serbia. Despite being very young she has achieved a lot as a civic and political activist in the fields of LGBT+ rights, Women’s rights, and fighting for democracy in our country. Her work was recognized and awarded by the UN, Amnesty International, Soka Gakkai, BeFem, and others. She has organized several protests that gathered hundreds, but also thousands of people in our country. However, at the beginning of 2022 Dejana created a campaign called #NisamPrijavila (I didn’t report) which lead to over 20 000 confessions (mostly from women) on violence and sexual assault and explained why they didn’t report what happened to them.

This caused a huge public debate, inspired lots of people, and educated even more of us. In my opinion, Dejana is a true example of what young activists can do, she is an inspiration to many and this award would not only recognize that but also give her story a platform to inspire many more.

 

SALOME MGELADZE

  1. What is your full-time job/ What do you do for a living?

I’m a founder and CEO at re:school. It’s a non-formal education space, where the creators of innovative projects teach tech professions that are in high demand. 

We believe that the only knowledge of digital technologies is not enough for professional perfection, therefore, we equip new generations with all the necessary skills that will help them to be successful. 

Our goal is to turn users of technologies into creators. 

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

I would describe myself as grateful, attentive and perfectionist. 

  1. According to you, how to be a better person/ how can one become a better person?

There’s something you can do each and every day to better yourself and grow as an individual. Practicing gratitude every day can help you be more positive. Gratitude is more than a feeling; it’s an active practice. Being thankful and appreciative of your life, no matter where you are in it, helps you be compassionate and loving towards yourself and others. Take a moment to recognize that every smile or simple favour is a gift. Taking care of your mental and physical health is very important to brighten your mood and be happier. Finding healthier outlets for anger, like exercising and doing yoga, to redirect negative emotions is also crucial. 

I would outline some concrete steps to become a better person. 1. First one is to set goals to yourself, because positive and obtainable aspirations can give you something to thrive for. 2. Work on forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and others can help you improve relationships. Allow yourself time to forgive your past mistakes and recognize what they’ve taught you. Then, forgive those who have hurt you. You may not be able to forget what they’ve done, and that’s okay, but forgiveness can give you peace of mind. 3. Be empathetic, imagining what someone’s been through can give you a new perspectiveEmpathy is one of the first steps to being a better person because it builds your compassion. 4. Give back to your community. Helping others doesn’t only benefit them, it benefits you too. Research shows that being altruistic improves mood and overall happiness. 5. Go outside your comfort zone. Expose yourself to new experiences to grow as an individual. Trying new things that make you a little uncomfortable can broaden your horizons and open your eyes to a different perspective. 6. Learn something new. One of the best ways to make yourself better is to educate yourself. 7. Be patient. Things don’t always happen the way you’d like them to, and that’s okay! Rather than getting upset when things don’t go your way, take a deep breath and remember to have patience. 

George Melashvili: “I nominated Ms. Mgeladze’s for her struggle to support and defend the idea of progress, development of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Ms. Mgeladze’s contribution to the EDYN network and EDYN in Georgia is impossible not to notice – she demonstrates courage, determination and willingness to see her community and her country a better place for all.”

 

SERHIY IKONNIKOV

  1. What is your full-time job/ What do you do for a living?

Before the start of the full scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine on the 24th of February 2022 I was fully engaged in the civic and political process in Ukraine. Aside from my role as EDYN Ukraine Ambassador I worked in the political party and was an assistant to a member of Kyiv city council.

On the first day of the invasion I joined the Territorial defence forces of Ukraine (One of the military forces in the structure of the Ukrainian army) defending the capital (Kyiv) from Russian aggression. I served there until the beginning of April and took part in the liberation of Kyiv region from the enemy. After I came back from my service I tried to return to my previous activities in the conditions of the full scale war in my country but I never managed to come back to civilian life fully so in September I signed a three-year contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and currently my full time job is a soldier of the Ukrainian army.

  1. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

I would describe myself as an honest and responsible patriot of my country.

  1. According to you, how to be a better person/ how can one become a better person?

You can become a better person if you ask yourself a simple question before doing or saying anything. That question is “Why?”. If you think carefully about every single of your actions and will find a good reason to do them, you will already be on the way of becoming a better person as you develop a new level of responsibility in yourself.

Mariia Zavada: Currently, Serhiy has joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine to defend our land, our future and whole-Europe democracy. I nominated him in the name of his courage, and also in the name of all the young people who bravely defend our country and democratic values right now at the cost of their lives.

Daryna Onyshko: Sometimes in order to keep democracy advancing and people enjoying their fundamental freedoms one needs to protect the independence of the country first. This is why we nominated Serhiy and commend his courage to defend Ukraine, its people and lands as part of the Ukrainian army.

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