Keeping the Soul of Ukraine Alive: Maintaining Personal & National Ideals while Under Fire in Ukraine, with Kateryna Yasko & Vytautas Bučiūnas

Kateryna Yasko Vytautas Buciunas Soul of Ukraine

Psychologist and non-violent communications trainer Kateryna Yasko and her husband, Vytautas Bučiūnas, Integral Master Coach and leadership development expert, relate what it’s like to live in war-torn Ukraine, two years since the Russian invasion began. They share why they chose to return to Kyiv from the safe haven of Lithuania, and describe a “special form of happiness” that occurs when the fragility and beauty of life is brought to the fore, as Russian missiles and drones continue to target civilians and cultural landmarks. It is an existential battle being fought for Ukraine, and Kateryna & Vytas are deeply aware of the importance of keeping the soul of Ukraine alive, the cultural code, the foundation of any democratic nation’s identity. Among other things, Kateryna works with theater groups to stage productions that help make meaning of what Ukrainians are going through, help with processing PTSD, and keep cultural expression alive.

This poignant conversation reveals what extraordinary courage human beings are capable of when put to the test: to protect loved ones, country, and the values of truth, justice, freedom, and democracy. Kateryna and Vytas emphasize that love is not enough to protect our innate rights and that pacifism is not an option in this case. They provide us with a glimpse into personal family life in modern wartime, a psychological portrait of where Ukrainians are at, a request for help, and a wake up call for all to understand that democracy around the world is not a given and that there are times, like this, when we need to stand up and fight for it. Recorded January 23, 2024.

We cannot leave this war to our children.”

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Topics & Time Stamps

  • Introducing Ukrainian psychologist Kateryna Yasko and integral leadership development expert Vytautas Bučiūnas, who have returned to live in Kyiv despite the ongoing war with Russia (01:13)
  • What is it like living in a country at war? The bombing of civilian buildings all over Ukraine happens according to schedule: Mondays, Tuesdays & holidays (03:21)
  • The interior personal dimensions: stress, fear, anger, but also a very meaningful time, a special form of happiness with life so fragile (06:18)
  • Why Kateryna & Vytas have chosen to return to Kyiv, rather than staying in Lithuania where it’s safe (08:51) 
  • Pacifism in this case is not an option: Putin is explicit about his intention to destroy Ukraine as a nation (10:08)
  • Kateryna’s work with military recruiters (as a psychologist), every one of whose motivation is “We cannot leave this war to our children.” (14:33)
  • Maintaining the cultural code, the soul of Ukraine: Kateryna works with producers & directors to support theater groups whose venues have been targeted in Russia’s attempts to destroy Ukraine culturally (16:09)
  • How theater helps people make sense of their trauma, and the staging of Pinocchio to address how to remain humane under circumstances that evoke so much fear, anger & stress (20:08)
  • A philosopher, PhD, and theologian friend has now become a sniper, and how Kateryna, a professional non-violent communications trainer and psychologist, realizes she too may need to become a sniper if Ukraine doesn’t receive enough support to protect itself (22:53) 
  • If Ukraine were to lose, Ukrainian men would become cannon fodder for the Russians, fighting against Western allies (26:04)
  • Invitation to join an Emerge gathering in Ukraine, September 2024, to deliberately envision the global planetary future we want to create (28:57)
  • Ukraine is now the frontier, the best place to feel into the fragility of life and contemplate futurism (32:42)
  • So many tipping points around the world are building up this year and the challenge of making sense of it: peace and democracy are not a given (35:11)
  • A call for support from the United States: peace & democracy are fragile all over the world—don’t take them for granted (36:01)
  • Will Ukraine get the package of funding under consideration in the US? Please do the compassionate action: write your senators and representatives to pass this funding (38:08)

Resources & References

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Kateryna Yasko Soul of Ukraine

Kateryna Yasko (Ukraine) is an organizational psychologist, a trainer for the development of emotional intelligence, trust, cooperation, effective communication, and peaceful conflict resolution, and co-founder of the consulting company U-Integral. Her academic background is in the area of international relations and law (MSc), business (MBA), and psychology (MSc). She bases her programs on the principles of Ken Wilber’s Integral approach and Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, and is certified in Spiral Dynamics Integral and in Susanne Cook-Greuter’s Maturity Assessment Profile. Kateryna is also head of the public association “International Institute for Integral Development” and a founder of the educational initiative EMPATIA.PRO, specializing in bringing holistic approaches into educational leadership and learning cultures. 

Vytautas Buciunas Soul of Ukraine

Vytautas Bučiūnas (Lithuania–Ukraine) is a co-founder and managing partner of U-Integral, an integral leadership development company. Vytautas also has vast experience as a top manager in the banking sector including working as the Head of Resident Office, Senior Banker, Associate Director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (Russia, Ukraine). Vytautas’ professional profile includes building organizational units from scratch, carrying out large-scale transformations, and managing crises. Vytautas is a certified Integral Master Coach™ (Integral Coaching Canada), an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)™, and the only business consultant in Ukraine certified in Leadership Maturity Framework – Maturity Assessment for Professionals (LMF-MAP) and Global Leadership Profile (GLP). Vytautas explores the development of human consciousness and complex social systems from a holistic perspective. He considers the growth of a critical mass of mature leaders with systemic thinking and transformational capabilities to be the key to society’s healthy development. 


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell


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