07 July 2023

From MA in International Relations to Luxemburg Peace Prize

Mariia speaking at an eventFollowing completion of an MA in International Relations at UEA in 2020, Dr Mariia Levchenko’s work in the field of peacebuilding and conflict resolution has taken her around the globe.

In her current role as Peacebuilding Officer at PATRIR (The Peace Action and Training Institute of Romania), Dr Levchenko has recently been awarded the Luxemburg Peace Prize 2023 for Outstanding Peace Activist, in acknowledgement of her peacebuilding and peace support work in Ukraine. We spoke to Mariia about winning the Peace prize, her work in conflict resolution and how her time at UEA helped shape who she is today.

I am immensely grateful for this prize, as it amplifies the voices of those working towards peace in Ukraine and highlights the importance of their tireless endeavours. 

Tell us about the significance of winning the prize and what it means to you:

 Winning the Luxembourg Peace Prize 2023 for Outstanding Peace Activist is an incredible honour that holds great significance for me. It reinforces my belief in the power and the importance of dialogue in resolving conflicts. It serves as a testament to the dedication and hard work of all those involved in the peacebuilding initiative in Ukraine, particularly the Peace Support Ukraine project, of which I am proud to be a part alongside the Romanian Peace, Action and Research Institute. Together, we have been working towards building the future foundations of peace, and addressing crucial themes such as emotional well-being, trauma healing, and resilience in Ukrainian local communities. 

This prestigious recognition also symbolizes the collective efforts of the Ukrainian people who have been tirelessly fighting for peace in our country. I am immensely grateful for this prize, as it amplifies the voices of those working towards peace in Ukraine and highlights the importance of their tireless endeavours. This award is a shared achievement, representing the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people who strive for a better, peaceful future. 

Mariia receiving peace award

Tell us more about your experiences working in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

My work encompasses various regions and communities affected by conflicts. While I am actively engaged in peacebuilding initiatives within Ukraine, particularly through my involvement with Peace Support Ukraine, my work has also taken me to other parts of the world. In addition to working with young people and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine, I have had the privilege of working with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda and local activists in Chad. These experiences have broadened my understanding of the diverse challenges faced by communities affected by conflict and have allowed me to contribute to their peacebuilding efforts. 

Engaging with communities across different regions allows me to witness the universality of the human desire for peace. By sharing experiences, knowledge, and skills, I have been able to contribute to the larger cause of global peacebuilding, while also recognizing the unique contexts and challenges faced by local societies. 

Mariia while at UEA

How do you remember your time at UEA?

I am a proud to be UEA alumni. My time at UEA was an incredible experience in learning, surrounded by outstanding professors and engaging with a diverse international community. I am especially grateful for the university’s academic excellence and the expertise and passion of the professors in their respective fields. Through their guidance and mentorship, I have been able to develop a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of International Relations. 

The international community at UEA enriched my experience in numerous ways. Interacting with students from diverse cultural backgrounds broadened my perspective and nurtured a deeper appreciation for the importance of intercultural understanding and collaboration. Engaging in discussions and debates with my peers, who brought unique insights and experiences to the table, sharpened my critical thinking skills, and helped me refine my approach to conflict resolution.

My time at UEA has been transformative, and I am immensely grateful for the invaluable experiences and resources they provided me. They have played a crucial role in shaping my journey as an advocate for dialogue, understanding, and peace.

Mariia studied MA International Relations at UEA.