Valeriia Tyshchenko from Ukraine
What do you like to do in ordinary normal life in Ukraine?
I’m a friend of poetry. You know, I write my own poems. I have had some published. I love literature very much, mostly in Ukrainian or Russian. I think physics and lyrics are the perfect combination and that this combination of lyrics and physics are within some of the most talented people, some of the most interesting people who can use all their creative powers and embody them in different ways into something great. I like this very much. Since the first seven years in school I was pretty sure that I would be a journalist and I wanted to study in Czech Republic at the Charles University of Journalism. It is the best branch of education so I dreamt of studying there. Then I also noticed that they are good at mathematics and physics so I decided that I have to try to be educated in physical and technical high school. I had to travel for 25 minutes every morning from my town to the school, but I liked it. I studied there for four years and during that time I also realized that maybe physics and technology is even more interesting for me than literature. So you see there is quite a contrast between my hobbies.
How did you hear about the SJWP competition?
I actually already heard of it when I was in 9th grade and I began work on my project then, so I have worked for is around two years. My first competition was a national level of IESF, International Engineering and Science Fair by Intel. Then my second competition held in Ukraine was the Stockholm Junior Water Prize on all Ukrainian level. I was among the finalists and I got the fourth place. So I didn’t get the grand prize to go to Stockholm. But after two years in grade 11 I decided that I have to try a second time and it was a nice ride. During these two years. I always try to participate in different competitions. I did some in the USA, Intel i7 and also the Genius Olympiad at State University in New York where I got a silver medal.
I´m always trying to develop a project but now I finished my school and I enrolled into University in the capital of Ukraine and I’m thinking of concentrating on my education for maybe two months, you know, take a break in developing my project. Just focus on my education it will be quite a hard time because I have to move from the school life to adult life.
While developing your project what has been the biggest challenge.
Oh, I think these moments when you find an obstacle, something hard for you to figure out in your work. In these moments you have to question, to ask yourself if your project is really worth it, to develop it further. These moments are quite difficult. I think if a person just can sort out such problems, it means that this project is just perfect for this person. So I think that everyone who can, who wants to develop something he can do that sort of thing. It just needs a lot of work and a lot of stamina, a lot of belief in yourself. Michael Restagin, my physics teacher and supervisor is my mentor. We have now two years of work and four years of teaching me, we are like friends. We have gone to several competitions together. He’s really cool.
I think that in our high school there are chairs for the different Sciences. For example, there is a chair of physics that includes about 15 teachers. Among them there is Michael Restagin and this chair encourages students to do well in physics and to participate in Olympiads.
I think that these chairs have played one of the most important roles in my life to make me decide what is more interesting for me and I chose physics and I’m really thankful for them. Especially for Michael.
What would have been impossible without them?
I think their style of teaching is the most important because when I studied in my town for seven years and the teachers there were like, you know ordinary teachers, quite ordinary ones. They just present their material, their program of each subject and nothing more. The teachers in the school I switched to are really good teachers, especially in physics.
They have wonderful sense of humor so it was always very funny and cheerful to be in the lessons. It was very good. They are all modern, they know almost everything about teenagers life and understand our jokes.
They would communicate with us just like our peers. It’s really cool. Yeah, that is why I can call my mentor my friend.
What would you say has been like the best moment so far?
The best moment? I think it was my first competition. The Intel techno at the national level in July. I went to this competition with Michael my mentor and four other students and it’s it was held in Kiev, our capital. It was my first competition, not the Olympiad, first competition at all and this team of me, my mentor and four other students we had a very warm atmosphere. And I think it was one of the best moments in the history of my project, it was really the most interesting competition maybe just because it was also only the second year of my studies.
What about the Stockholm Junior Water Prize? What has been the best so far?
Oh, I think it’s almost the same. I mean here you don’t have these two thousand participants. You have only about 50, 48 participants and that is why the organizers can then communicate with each participant and our team, I like it very much. Also Stockholm is like a very warm city in sense of moods.
So I feel like I haven’t gone to a different city. I feel like I’m among people I know. I am with my friends. That is the basic feeling that I think is the most important to create in such competition because such feelings always encourage people to do their best. They become a team, you know teamwork. It is one of the most important things in our life.
You’ve been to so many competitions, but if you look at the competitions in general. What have they given you personally, not just professionally, because that is very clear that you come very far professionally. But personally, what have they given you?
There were such a big amount of different emotions that I fail to decide in this condition what is the most important. But I think that is this feeling that you’re not alone, you know. If you want to do something great you always can find people who want to do the same or who can help you with that.
SJWP is like the place where I can see that I’m not the only one in this kind of big deal of making the world better.
I think you’re a poet. You put it so nicely.
I have some problems in English because it is difficult to practice. I hear on TV but I have very little practice in Ukraine . I have learned it for about seven years. I try to watch some TV series and films in English.
Imagine that you could telepathically communicate with every single person in the world under 35. What would you say to them?
To stop and just realize how much damage humanity has done to our planet.
Yeah, stop, realize and think what you can do to help. It has to be the goal of humanity now because, our planet is so beautiful. It’s a pity because I think that human and nature can exist in harmony.
Interviewee: Valeriia Tyshchenko
Interviewer: Edward Veem
Photographer: Lila Roumeliotou