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Friday evening 60 people from Russia, Germany, Czech Republic and Austria, as well as a Jewish Youth group, gathered at the Russian-German House in Moscow. We started in a small conference room at the fifth floor, but soon we had to move to the large assembly room because we hadnt expected so many people to come to our first Ethno-club! After the moving around we were 60 young people ready for the intercultural evening to start.

After Ashot, Director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation welcomed the participants, we started with a small warm-up interactive game. Then the main task of the evening began, as Natasha from the German youth organization Jugendbruecke explained what everyone was to do. The over-reaching aim was to learn more about the represented countries: Russia, Israel, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. The meeting was designed to be a trip by train through the mentioned countries. Every participant got a train ticket (a small piece of paper with a stereotypical phrase about one of the countries written on it) and was to find his or her wagon. This part was difficult enough, as how should an Armenian know which of our countries, in particular, is known for its spas?! And who in the world are Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt, not to mention what nation they come from! After a while of guessing and searching, the groups found each other and the main part of the evening could begin. Our country experts worked with the groups, first explaining the sentences and their meaning and then asking the group what they knew about this country. The groups had twenty minutes to prepare a presentation for the auditorium.

After half an hour the Jewish group, with their expert Aleksey, Leader of the Jewish Youth Group, started their presentation, presenting typical symbols like the Star of David or the Menorah. After that the group showed us how six persons can form the Star of David. They finished with a presentation of the song Hava Nagila.

First the Austrian group, with Patrizia, Volunteer at the CIC as its expert, presented their results. It turned out that Austria, as a small country, is not well-known in Russia. Usually the achievements of Austrian culture are just regarded as German ones, and what we learned from our Czech specialist is that most of what we could regard as Austrian is truly Czech. So Patrizia could really enlighten us with knowledge of her country. The group members explained the sentences on their papers (after having them explained by Patrizia) to the audience, showing the places they talked about on a drawn Austrian map. The group finished with a cheerful presentation of the song Die Tiroler die sind lustig (People in Tirol are jolly).

The Czech group turned out to be very energetic. Expert Stepanka is a volunteer at the Russian-German House, which was one of the organizers of this Ethno-club, and he let his group do aerobic activity while at the same time study some Czech words. After watching, the audience joined his game: touch your hlava (head), nos (nose), koleni (knee) etc. the group finished with a Czech folk dance which again involved audience participation.

The German group, with Raimund, who volunteer at the CIC, first discussed and presented the stereotypical phrases on the train tickets. The group members found the stereotype of German punctuality most important and decided to present it in a small scene. Interestingly, the expert of this group and another German missed their entrance and were unpunctual. Towards the end of their presentation, the group presented a traditional German canon Hejo, spann den Wagen an, which the group managed to learn very well in a short time.

The Russian group worked with Marina, a psychologist teaching at the Ethno-psychology faculty and also working at the CIC (which was one of the founding organizers of the ethno-club) decided that Russia could be described by a fairytale in which a Grandfather, dog, cat, mouse and others try to tear a turnip out of the soil, with the turnip being played by a nice young woman. Finally, they all sang Kalinka.

After this part of the program, a Jewish young womens choir gave a small concert singing songs mostly in Ivrith, but also German and Old Armenian.

All in all, it was a very interesting an enjoyable evening that ended with the obligatory tea, coffee and cookies and people talking and getting to know each other.

Already right after the end of the first Ethno-club participants asked if and when there will be another one! And there sure will be another one!


If you have some interesting information about interethnic situation in your region or about activity of your organisation, we would be glad to post it on our website center@interethnic.org