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Educational Training
The Network of Ethnic Associations Opposing Xenophobia in Novosibirsk


From 2 to 4 March in Novosibirsk a training for youth representatives from ethnic organizations was held. This training was part of a series of trainings held in the framework of the project Developing a Network of Ethnic Organizations in Opposition to Xenophobia in Russia. The project was carried out by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation in partnership with the organization UNITED, the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees. The training was lead by trainers from the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, and 21 people took part.

From the moment it was founded in 1893, Novosibirsk went trough many major events that explain why it is now a first-rate Siberian megapolis: the construction of the Transiberian railway and bridge over the Ob, its transformation into Siberias administrative center in the 20th century and finally, its conversion into a major industrial center after the Second World War. Perhaps the reason for its success is that it hosts the world-famous Akademgorodok, where dozens of scientific research centers and universities are located, or because it is the geographical center of Russia? As you can see, the city has many merits, but there is one thing that defines its past, present and future- its people. That is what we, the Center for International Cooperations (CIC) Ashot Ayrapetyan and Anastasiya Sviyazova, discovered during the few days we spent with Novosibirsk youth for the training seminar The Network of Ethnic Associations Opposing Xenophobia. The seminar took place on March from 2nd to 4th with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (US) and the European Union. It would not have been possible without the active participation of the Novosibirsk municipal Cultural Committee, and more precisely the head specialist on ethno-cultural questions, Marina Dobrovolskaya, as well as the head specialist on cultural-entertainment questions, Larissa Fisher.

This was not the first time CIC has worked in Novosibirsk. Last year, we actively took part in the interethnic childrens camp City of Friendship City of Childhood. We can be thankful for the fact that ethnic youth leaders have been working there as guides for the past two years and have created an active and friendly youth group which includes not only inhabitants of Novosibirsk, but also youth from Yekaterinburg, Kyzyl, Krasnoyarsk and Yakutya. All of them managed to join forces to solve the most pressing problems related to the creation of the Network of Youth Associations Opposing Racism and Xenophobia. Present were members of the Azerbaijani, Buryat, Kazakh, Korean and Ukrainian diasporas, as well as students and teachers from various cities of the Russian Federation, representatives of the Novosibirsk municipal Direction for Social Connections and Interaction with Administrative Bodies, the municipal Committee for Culture and Art and the municipal House of Ethnic Cultures.

Before discussing global problems, we decided to determine with whom the ethnic youth leaders present at the seminar would have to deal with on a daily basis. After an emotional discussion, we managed to draw the portrait of a typical Novosibirsk youth. The characteristics were:

  1. Egocentric
  2. Independent
  3. Mobile, sociable and communicative
We were not at all surprised by that answer, and asked the group the following question: If things are really not that bad, then what are the causes for the increase in racism sentiments? This is what the most active segment of the Novosibirsk youth came up with:
  1. The collapse of the USSR
  2. misrepresentation of facts within the media
  3. Intergovernmental wars
  4. Narrow minded perception of the history and culture of other peoples
  5. The local population is envious of the achievements of other ethnic groups
  6. The rise in stereotypes
  7. Lack of clear and official government policies
  8. Historical facts (for example, the fact that Baltic countries joined the USSR of their own free will, and the current denial of that fact)
  9. Personal vendettas
  10. Propaganda about racism, inequality and violence
  11. Lack of family orientated cultural education
We were interested in knowing what the seminars participants thought about the level of tolerance in the city. We asked the participants to answer on a scale of one to five, 5 being excellent and 1 terrible. Nine answered with a 3, six with a 4, and one with a 3.5.

The following section of the seminar was devoted to finding ways of solving the problems faced by ethnic youth organizations and ways of developing tolerance in the region. After a long discussion, it was suggested that an interethnic association of youth organizations be created in Novosibirsk.

Advantages of such an organization :

  1. Recognition and problem solving
  2. Increased opportunities
  3. Sharing experiences
Disadvantages:
  1. It is hard for all groups to come to an agreement
According to the seminars participants, the biggest advantage is that it would be easier to write project proposals and to receive grants from the Novosibirsk City Hall, as the current resources are insufficient. Vitaly Yumashev, specialist of the Novosibirsk municipal Direction for Social Connections and Interaction with Administrative Bodies and chairman of the grant committee, agreed with them on that point. Yumashev outlined in detail the current conditions of the competitions, the size of the grants and the type of projects preferred by the government. He made many of the participants happy when he announced that individuals could now apply for the competitions, on the condition that they are 18, have a bank account and meet the specific requirements of the competition. We decided not to waste time and asked the participants to suggest project ideas. Here are the results:

Project Inter-Space

Applicant: The Center for Interethnic Cooperation

Partners:
    MAEKO (Yekaterinburg)
    TsMS (Yekaterinburg)
    Concord (Novosibirsk)

Goal: the formation of a unified information network for questions of ethnicity.

Tasks:

  1. Sharing information and experience through the Internet.
  2. Attracting representatives of various ethnicities (searching for like-minded interested people).
    Length: 3 months.
  3. Creation of a website (forum, links)
        - within the framework of the librarys website (links);
        - sociological surveys (statistics);
        - news, current information;
        - dissemination of information (collection of information for dissemination, dissemination of information about the creation of the website).
  4. Website development, publicity campaign (100 000 rubles), media, regular staff (6 people)
Result:

Regular and timely dissemination of information, fulfillment of the goals.

Project Peace in the world of nations

Applicant: Pilipenko Sergey Alekseevich

Goal: Developing tolerant attitudes amongst youth.

Length: 1 year.

  1. Attracting university students to actively participate in the sphere of interethnic relations by partaking in various projects.
  2. Leading trainings and seminars for youth in order to rally leaders and give them exposure.
  3. Organizing joint interethnic projects with interested youth.
  4. Presenting the results of the projects in the form of conferences, forums, printed material and through the media and the Internet.
Financial Estimate:
  1. Transportation (30 000 rubles).
  2. Office equipment and material (70 000 rubles).
  3. Other expenses (120 000 rubles).
Ways of realizing the project:
  1. Space at a college
  2. Presentation
  3. Getting to know the audience/training sessions
  4. Team work
  5. Roundtables
Results expected: Developing an active and tolerant attitude within youth circles.

Project Inter-Disco

Applicant: National-Cultural Autonomy.

Goal: Networking, exchanging ideas and attracting new activists who can eventually work as volunteers. Strengthening the position of an ethnic collective.

Events:

Organizing small events on Saturdays and major discos on holidays. Inviting different ethnic groups to perform on holidays.

Project We are different, but we are together

Youth camp for leaders.

Applicant:
    AMEKO (Yekaterinburg)
    The Center for Interethnic Cooperation (Moscow)
    Leaders of the national autonomies of Siberia.

Goal: creating a Russian interethnic youth association.

Length: one year.

Location: Novosibirsk.

  1. Cycle of videos about the productive work of each association
  2. Seminars, training sessions.
  3. Sport events.
  4. Roundtables (exposing problems and finding ways to solve them).
  5. Leadership training.
  6. Receiving information about grants and events.
  7. Joint projects.
  8. Methods of attracting new activists.
  9. Organizing such camps on a regular basis.
Estimate: 150 000 rubles + 30 000 rubles + sponsors

After the presentation of the projects, each participant voted for the project they liked the most. The most popular were Peace in the world of nations and We are different, but we are together. Lets hope for these active and cheerful young people that not only will their projects come to life, but that there projects will adapt and continue to exist for many years to come. All in all, we know that they will be successful, because they are part of a team that proved over the course of two days that they can work in a well-organized fashion, whether it be while learning, socializing or playing sports.

Unfortunately, good things must come to an end. As the seminar was winding down, we all exchanged our contact information. We discovered yet another peculiarity of the seminars participants: everyone has more than one email address, but not all know their associations postal code. What else can we expect from modern youth in this age of information technology, when barely anyone uses old-fashioned means of communication? We really did not want to leave, however, returning to our everyday lives gives us the opportunity to put in practice all that we have learned during those wonderful spring days. We will be meeting again, in order to share our achievements, discuss our problems and find new ways to solve them.

Anastasiya Sviyazova



1993-2003
Web-Master


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