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Data Workshops for Ukraine: Learn a skill and support a cause

When the war in Ukraine started last year, Dariia Mykhailyshyna, a Ukrainian doing her PhD in Italy, was looking for ways to “be useful”. She joined other Ukrainians abroad to obtain information and support humanitarian relief efforts.

Then Mykhailyshyna came up with the idea of ​​running workshops on R to raise funds. She considered asking some friends if they would also teach a workshop. “I wasn’t thinking about a long-term series,” she said. “I was thinking maybe a couple of workshops. But then it worked.”

Forty sessions and over a thousand attendees later, Workshops for Ukraine has raised about $28,000 for organizations supporting humanitarian and advocacy efforts in Ukraine. About 20 experts have volunteered to teach. While the series started with R, topics have expanded to include Python, SQL, Stata, and the Quarto technical publishing platform.

Available this Thursday at noon EST/9am PST/6pm CET: Working with ChatGPT in R.

Registration requires a minimum donation of $20, €20 or 800 UAH. People can donate more, of course, and can choose to donate to sponsor a student. Mykhailyshyna does not charge registration fees directly. Instead, attendees are asked to donate to one of the approved Ukrainian support organizations and to submit proof of their donations.

All workshops are two-hour live sessions online. They are recorded, so attendees can watch the videos again later. Individuals who missed a previous workshop or wish to attend a future class but have a scheduling conflict can register to access the recording and workshop materials. Workshop hours and registration information can be found at

Design consultant Cédric Scherer recently gave a workshop on choosing and customizing the color palette in R and ggplot2 and said that the experience “was excellent overall, from an organization perspective, but also from the way it was perceived the workshop”.

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When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Scherer said, he had considered organizing some kind of class of his own to raise money to help Ukraine. “Like many others, I felt powerless” as the war unfolded, he told me by email. “When Dariia approached me, this was exactly the opportunity she was waiting for.”

Mykhailyshyna said that popular topics have included introductions to R, Python for R users, Bayesian modeling, and Scherer colors in ggplot2. She’s already scheduled another ggplot2 session, “Data Visualization with R and ggplot: Using Color and Annotations for Effective Storytelling,” to be taught by data consultant Cara Thompson next month.

“Having run a similar workshop for people using R within the NHS [the UK’s National Health Service] A few months ago, I already had some tried and tested materials that I could build on, so when Dariia reached out to me, it was an easy ‘Yes,’” Thompson told me in an email. “I really enjoy equipping others to make better data visualizations, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do it while contributing to a great cause.”

Other upcoming topics include survival analysis in Python and R and working with image data in R. Anyone interested in running a workshop can contact Mykhailyshyna at

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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