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Aloha Traces in Ukraine (2023) | Documentary

In the complex tapestry of global connections, the documentary "Aloha Traces in Ukraine" stands as a beacon of compassion and action. Directed by Yana Lahoda, a young Ukrainian filmmaker with roots deeply embedded in the heart of Ukraine, this 11-minute film captures the profound impact of ENGin volunteers in Hawaii on the lives of Ukrainians affected by war.

ENGin's Global Impact

Yana Lahoda's journey with ENGin began in early 2020 when she assumed the roles of a social media manager and admissions interviewer for the platform. That period marked the genesis of her contemplation on the often-existing gap between empathy and action. However, Yana's story took a unique turn when she became a boarding student at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii, thanks to the Ukraine Global Scholars program.

Born and raised in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia oblast, in the east of Ukraine for 16 years, Yana Lahoda found herself physically distanced but emotionally connected to her homeland. The year unfolded as a witness to the full-scale Ukraine invasion, presenting a unique perspective for Yana, now a freshman student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

During this rough time, Yana was moved by the overwhelming support for Ukraine from individuals participating in ENGin's programs and other volunteering opportunities. This outpouring of assistance from the other side of the planet inspired Yana to take her involvement to new heights. She engaged in leading podcasts, creating videos, and writing stories for ENGin, contributing to a broader impact on tens of thousands of students and offering support to Ukrainian learners of English.

A Tribute to ENGin Volunteers

Against this backdrop, Yana Lahoda conceived the idea of producing "Aloha Traces in Ukraine" as a tribute to ENGin and its dedicated contributors. The documentary serves as a visual narrative, capturing the seemingly small yet impactful actions of ENGin's volunteers in one of the most remote places on Earth, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Directed by Yana Lahoda, the film introduces us to three ENGin volunteers, Joshua, Meliame, and Serene, who reside on the tranquil shores of Oahu. Despite the geographical distance, they embody the spirit of compassion and action. Their daily efforts, as showcased in the documentary, extend beyond language learning, creating profound human connections with Ukrainians affected by war.

Yana Lahoda

The visionary behind "Aloha Traces in Ukraine," Yana Lahoda, now a freshman at Bard College, brings a unique perspective as both an aspiring filmmaker and a native of Enerhodar, Ukraine. Her experiences at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii, during the 11th and 12th grades of high school were transformative.

Yana shares, "I had the honor of studying at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawaii for my 11th and 12th grades of high school. At the most isolated location on Earth, I have stumbled upon the most selfless and kindest people whom I now consider my second family and I will not ever stop being blown away by the unconditional support, love, and care of 'Iolani School community that has been shown to me and my country. It was a privilege to make this film about ENGin volunteers, the kind of people in Hawaii that make change in the Ukrainians' lives, daily, just as much. Mahalo nui loa."

Yana emphasizes her belief in the transformative impact of sharing untold Ukrainian stories with American audiences, a conviction evident in her past and upcoming work.

A Cinematic Journey

"Aloha Traces in Ukraine" is not just a documentary. It is a cinematic journey that transcends borders. In its 11-minute runtime, the film encapsulates the essence of ENGin's global community, showcasing the diverse and impactful contributions of its volunteers. The documentary underscores that distance is no barrier when it comes to fostering human connections and making a positive impact on the lives of those affected by conflict.

As we immerse ourselves in the visual narrative, we witness the traces of aloha - love, compassion, and solidarity - spanning across continents. From the peaceful shores of Oahu to the hearts of Ukrainians facing the harsh realities of war, the documentary becomes a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for positive change.

Tracing Aloha Across Continents

In the world of ENGin, where empathy transforms into action, "Aloha Traces in Ukraine" emerges as a symbol of hope and solidarity. Yana Lahoda's directorial prowess and personal journey infuse the documentary with authenticity and depth, creating a narrative that transcends geographical boundaries.

It reminds us that every act of kindness, no matter how small, contributes to a broader tapestry of positive change. The aloha spirit, encapsulated in the actions of ENGin volunteers in Hawaii, becomes a bridge that connects distant shores, fostering understanding, support, and resilience.

In a world where stories unfold against the backdrop of conflict, "Aloha Traces in Ukraine" invites us to reflect on the power of human connection and the potential for positive change, even in the most isolated corners of the Earth. It serves as a call to action, urging us to embrace empathy, extend our reach, and leave traces of aloha that resonate across continents.


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