This week’s interview is with Svitlana Vodyanyk, a summer intern at the Global Legal Research Center, Law Library of Congress. The Law Library’s internship program is in full swing and we are introducing all our summer interns to In Custodia Legis readers every week.
Describe your background
I was born in the Soviet Union but grew up in the independent Ukraine in a family of doctors. I did not become a doctor only because I did not feel that medicine would be my passion, and I did not want to be a bad doctor. Instead, I decided to become a good and passionate lawyer! After I had received my first law degree in my home country, I worked for more than eight years in different Ukrainian and international companies and NGOs. I am very proud of the fact that I spent the last four years of my professional career in the Confederation of Employers of Ukraine where I worked as an adviser. Thanks to the Confederation, I was involved in multiple interesting and important projects, such as developing new legislation that was aimed at increasing competitiveness in Ukraine, preparing for Ukraine participation in the European Union, negotiating Ukraine Free Trade Agreements, etc. I also served as an independent expert of the International Labor Organization and worked on several technical projects aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace and improving collective bargaining and labor law compliance in Ukraine. My biggest professional accomplishment so far is an award on behalf of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of Ukraine for outstanding work on important legislative initiatives. I spent one year in Bali, Indonesia, as a scholar of Darmasiswa Scholarship Program studying Indonesian language and culture. In 2012, I came to the U.S. to pursue a Master of Law (LL.M) at the University of Miami as a fellow of Edmund Muskie Fellowship Program, which is sponsored by U.S. Department of State.
How would you describe your job to other people?
Under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of the Global Legal Research Center, I assist with the legal research on different issues covering several jurisdictions, mostly ex-Soviet countries and countries of Eastern Europe. My assignments are very interesting and challenging at the same time, and I am proud to be a part of work of the Law Library of Congress. The fact that my native languages are Russian and Ukrainian helps me to handle literature in foreign languages that I do not speak, such as Bosnian and Serbian. The proximity of language groups and similarity of legal systems allow me to cope with these assignments. As a person who studied in Miami, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, I am also enjoying the opportunity to communicate with the Law Library’s staff that consists of specialists who came from different countries. It is amazing how many accents you can hear throughout the day!
Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?
When I learned about the internship opportunity at the Library of Congress, I realized that this is the type of work I would like to do and the experience I would like to have while in the U.S. The Law Library is a unique collection of legal resources, modern innovative technologies and well-trained specialists. I love the fact that I have to be creative in my everyday work – this is one of the reasons I became an intern at the Library of Congress.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
I was very surprised to find out that anyone can ask a question on any topic, and will be guaranteed to get professional reference assistance from the Library’s staff. It is also surprising how many events and activities the Library offers to the public, all of which are free of charge. When I see how many visitors, especially children, attend the Library every day, I realized that, despite common opinion, computers do not always substitute books nowadays. I believe that the Library of Congress is a treasure that should never lose its value in the society.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
After I spent a year in Bali, I fell in love with Asia. I believe that Western people have so much to learn from Asian people; for example, how to stay calm and positive in any situation, be healthy not only physically but also mentally, and enjoy little things that can make us happier. I would love to go back to Asia and spend several months traveling from country to country, meeting new people and learning more about Asian culture.