International peacemaker from Ukraine to visit MC

International peacemaker from Ukraine to visit MC

Sept. 13, 2017

Alla Soroka, an international peacemaker from Ukraine, will visit Maryville College Sept. 22-28.

While on campus, Soroka will speak to classes and deliver the sermon during the College’s weekly worship service on Tues., Sept. 26 at 1:15 p.m. in the Samuel Tyndale Wilson Center for Campus Ministry. The service is open to the campus and local community.

Soroka, who lives in Odessa, Ukraine, has been actively engaged in peacemaking work with at-risk children and youth in the Ukraine since 2005. Her work began with the Odessa Regional Mediation Group, providing a restorative justice model for incarcerated and at-risk young people. She is trained in the "Alternatives to Violence" program developed by the Quakers and serves as their Ukraine coordinator. Along with a team of volunteer facilitators, she teaches nonviolent strategies and communication skills to groups, including incarcerated young men.

Since 2007, she has served on the program staff of “This Child Here,” a ministry with children who live on the streets. In addition to street children, their work – with the help of the “Alternatives to Violence” team – has expanded to include Ukraine’s orphanages, recognizing that many children in orphanages end up either incarcerated or living on the streets. They have also begun programs with at-risk youth in public schools and with foster parents. When war came to Ukraine, they started a summer camp for refugee families from the eastern regions, providing a place of peace, joy, creativity and family warmth for those displaced and traumatized by war.

“Our campus is always enriched by the presence of people who are engaged in humanitarian and peacemaking work in regions that we often only read about,” said the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, campus minister at Maryville College. “Ms. Soroka works with children and young people whose lives are at risk because of the conflict in Ukraine. Her stories will both help us understand that region of the world and may offer us insights about struggles young people everywhere face in difficult times.”

Every year, Maryville College partners with local Presbyterian Church (USA) churches to host a speaker who is part of the national church’s “International Peacemakers” program. This program provides guests from areas of conflict around the world to travel and educate around issues and challenges in their home countries.

Soroka is one of 12 International Peacemakers speaking across the United States this fall. The International Peacemakers will be speaking from Sept. 22 through Oct. 16.  

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.