When asked if I was going away this year and I responded with “I’m going to Ukraine”, I was met with many quizzical and puzzled faces.

For Ukraine isn’t the typical British tourist destination, even less so now that the country is technically still at war in the East.

However, when I responded saying that I was going to International Camp, and going on to run holiday clubs in villages, those faces changed from the puzzled to the enquiring: “Why would you want to go there?”

I was in Ukraine in February 2016 as part of my Gap Year with SU Scotland. It helped to build the love I have for the Former Soviet Republics, especially those in Eastern Europe – they have such a rich culture and interesting history. But something else I have found is that the people are friendly and generous. The Ukrainians that I have met I got on well with even if they prefer football over rugby.

I will be spending my time with other young people from some of the Former Soviet Nations (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Siberia) and the UK. The first week is spent in training, discipleship and preparing to run holiday clubs for children in villages around Kiev region and beyond during the second week.

I am looking forward to spending time and hanging out with other people my age from different countries and different walks of life. One thing I found when I was last in Ukraine was the fact that  
even though we spoke different languages we all worshipped the same God. With possibly even more languages in the mix it will be quite amazing.

It will be interesting to watch how other people run parts of the programme for the holiday club. I am going to see how I can improve by seeing what works and what doesn’t. I am looking forward to seeing how God uses me and the rest of the team from Scotland. I have been told that it is very warm in Ukraine at this time, so I hope that not only will I come back with more practical knowledge, but with a bit of a tan too!

Nathanael Jones