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I Am A Great Example Of Resilience, Of The Need To Be Kind To Others – Yuliia Honcharova

Yuliia Honcharova
Yuliia Honcharova

June 20th marks World Refugee Day – an internationally recognised opportunity, organised by the United Nations, to recognise, honour and celebrate refugees from around the world whilst shining a much-needed spotlight on the conflicts and crises which have forced people to flee their homes in order to seek safety.

Going further, each year, World Refugee Day champions the right for refugees to find economic and social inclusion, as well as to visibly advocate for finding solutions to the root causes of their plights.

Business schools and universities – institutions which exist to educate the next generation, shape future society and find solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, support refugees through education access and support, outreach initiatives and research.

In recognition of World Refugee Day, BlueSky Thinking speaks to students around the world who have been displaced by global events and conflict, using their experiences, voices and actions to help make the world a better place…

  • Name: Yuliia Honcharov
  • Occupation: Last held position was a Marketing Executive in a global telecommunication company in Lisbon, Portugal
  • Country of origin: Ukraine
  • Current Studies: International MBA candidate at Porto Business School

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of being a refugee, and how/why you sought refuge?

I arrived in Portugal several months before the Russian war in Ukraine started. When the war started, I had no chance to return home. My hometown is in Donbass region, which became occupied within a couple of weeks. As a refugee I must count on myself (to work hard and be able to rent an apartment, for example) and I feel desperate sometimes. Portugal helps refugees as much as possible, but this help is basic compared to countries with stronger economies. Portuguese people are friendly and empathetic, and for that I am grateful. It is worth a lot.

“For other students I am a great example of resilience to life’s obstacles – how to start a new life from scratch in a new country, how to control emotions in difficult situations, how to be kind to others”

What made you decide to study at business school? Have you faced any specific challenges as a refugee student?

I decided to study at a business school because I wanted to upgrade my education and refresh my business administration knowledge. The only challenge is to talk about war, as it is on the news all the time. As the days pass more terrible events occur in Ukraine, and to talk about it is a challenge. But now I know how to avoid such sensitive conversations.

Are there any unique skills, perspectives or experiences that you feel you bring as a refugee student?

For other students I am a great example of resilience to life’s obstacles – how to start a new life from scratch in a new country, how to control emotions in difficult situations, how to be kind to others.

What advice would you give to other refugee students who are considering pursuing business education or starting their entrepreneurial journeys?

My advice is that your business education can bring business partners or knowledge that will help you to start or grow your business. And not just this, if you are in a career change, a business education can help you to see a new career direction or to understand that you do like your current industry. This happened to me too. 

How can business schools and the broader community better support and empower refugee students in their pursuit of business education and career opportunities?

Non-profit organisations and sponsors working in partnership with business schools can provide more scholarships to talented people and actively promote this life-changing opportunity to refugee students. I got my scholarship from Galp Foundation, which was a great opportunity to enhance my expertise with a business education from Porto Business School, one of the top European business schools. It is a great and inspiring initiative to support talented people when they most need the help.

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