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“I Want to Be…” Project: The Traveler Sergey Gordiyenko: The Major Mystery on Earth are You and I!

December 7, 2011, 14:00 4472 Author: Anton Bondarenko, Photo: Serhey Chepurnov, translated by Anna Oliynyk happychild.org.ua November 14th – A full conference hall of young dreamers got together to meet the famous traveler at the Regional Youth Center. Some curious children and their inventive questions made even the guest, Sergey Gordiyenko, applaud

Once upon a time, when the days flew by much slower, when mountains were made of crystal, when the water in the rivers was clear, the clouds were white and fluffy, and the air was transparent, there were people living in a neighborhood. They lived in houses built with their own hands. And they wore clothes which they tailored themselves. And the food they had was given to them by woods, rivers, and fertile lands.

But once a disaster came to their place: there was a big earthquake, and the fire took everything away. One could no longer hear lovely birds’ songs, but only cries and groans. Terrible hunger began. It was terrifying to listen to children weeping. Something had to be done. And then a brave man said that he would go far away, to the places no one had ever been to, and would find prosperous lands. And off he went. This man became everyone's hope.

Time went by: one day, and then hundreds of other days… though he was not coming back. And there was no person left who still believed he would be back. Everyone thought he was no longer alive. But once, when the sun touched the burnt soil, the man came back. He took the people to the places he was telling about, and their hopes turned into reality.

This man was the first traveler.


On November 14th every place was occupied in the conference hall of Zaporozhye Regional Youth Center. The hall was full of dreamers from two city orphanages, Orthodox shelter “Hope” and Cossack school “Zaporozhye Sech”. There were also some adult dreamers, with a special group differentiated among them: journalists-dreamers.

This meeting was arranged by “The Happy Child” Foundation within “I Want to Be…” Project. This time the guest of the project was one of the most interesting personalities of our days, Sergey Gordiyenko. Sergey is a professional traveler. He has twice been to the North Pole and was first to settle the Ukrainian flag there. He specializes in extreme individual survival of the world class and is the only person out of 7 billion inhabitants of our planet, who covered more than 160 thousand km on foot and by kayak, and this is like making a round-the-world trip along the Equator. In 1996 Sergey Gordiyenko became a participant of the first Ukrainian Antarctic expedition, and spent nearly a year at the Vernadsky Research Base.

Everybody was listening to the guest very attentively. What the children liked most were the stories about Sergey meeting wild animals, traveling over the coldest and the most southern Antarctic Continent, as well as crossing the Siberia boreal forests on his own. The children learned what minhocao was – the creature living in the waters of the Amazon and scaring away Indians from Bororo tribe. Besides, the lecturer told how one could protect himself from a wild bear using a simple enema and some ground pepper.

All over that night the children were asking various questions. Everybody was impressed with the deep knowledge of a nine-year-old Ilya. Even the guest could not but applaud to the future traveler, and all those present were happy to support him.

When asked one of the most interesting questions, "What did you feel when you were setting the Ukrainian flag at the North Pole?", Sergey answered: "We were crying. Not because we felt pain, but because we made it! Every day it was very cold, we wanted to get some sleep and had almost nothing to eat, and the connection was lost as our portable transmitter was broken. And so when you finally win, the most important is feeling that you were able to overcome yourself and all your fears."

The two-hour meeting flew by very quickly. At the end the famous traveler drew a conclusion: "You and I are just ordinary people, but when a man realizes that he needs to act, his possibilities become endless. I wish you to never stop, but to constantly develop. And remember that you should remain humans whatever life brings to you. The major mystery are you and I."

Children will keep this meeting in their memories for a long time. The examples of such people as Sergey Gordiyenko call us to become not distant observes of our own lives, but their active participants. At the same time it is very important to stay open to the world, to people and to new impressions.

We would like to say a big thank you to Sergey Gordiyenko for conducting this charitable meeting with the children and to the director of Zaporozhye Regional Youth Center, Andrey Loboda, for providing us with the premises.

P.S. Recently there have been quite a few children and adults gathering at the Happy Child Foundation who are really fond of traveling. So the Foundation has all the chances to become a “travelers’ foundry” to bring up new Magellans, Heyerdahls, and Gordiyenkos.

Below we also present you several photos made by the volunteer of the Foundation, photographer Sergey Chepurnov, and a small interview from the event:

Children from the school “Zaporozhye Sech”

Travelers – Sergey Gordiyenko and Anton Bondarenko

Sergey feels confident speaking to any audience, and his stories about meeting the Indians of Amazonia and wild inhabitants of boreal forests fascinate both schoolchildren and adults


Another hero of the day was Ilya. He was the one who asked the biggest number of questions and the one who won applause of Sergey Gordiyenko and 80 people present in the conference hall.

Here is a small interview with the boy:

- You probably read a lot, so what is the book you are reading at the moment?

- Now I’m reading a funny story called “Barankin, be a man!” from the school library.

- Did you have a chance to travel yourself?

- Yes, my granddad and I went hiking to the mountains!

- And would you like to become a real traveler?

- I do not know. I have not made a decision about my occupation yet.

- Did you like the meeting with Sergey Gordiyenko?

- Sure, I liked it very much! I just have one more question I wanted to ask him from the very beginning. So I’ll go talk to him, all right?

Interviewed Ilya – Vladimir Krasnogolovy

In the near future we will also present you some video files with the most interesting stories of Sergey Gordiyenko told at the meeting and impressions of the children from Zaporozhye schools and orphanages.

Sergey Gordiyenko with representatives of “The Happy Child” Foundation

Sergey Gordiyenko with the author of this material

You can read and watch the reports of Zaporozhye mass media about the event here.


We need financial support to arrange similar meetings and ensure effective operation of the motivational program “I Want to Be…” as well as other projects of “The Happy Child” Foundation aimed at comprehensive development of children from orphanages, large or low-income families. Every penny from your donations to such projects is a sound contribution to the future.

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