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Yaroslavl Real Russian Hospitality


From 25 to 27 October in Yaroslavl 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 27 people from different regions of Russia took part. Geert Ates (director of UNITED, Amsterdam) and Miroslav Prokes (Prague) played the role of experts.

Workshops for Young People in Central Russia

The training sessions in Yaroslavl took place immediately after the training in Tolyatti (see http://79.174.72.86/~intereth/EngNews/231106_1.html)

This was arranged so that it would be convenient for our European partners, Geert Ates and Mirek Prokes to travel across Russia from one venue to the next. We traveled from Samara to Yaroslavl by train, which allowed us to fully appreciate the wonderful Russian countryside. In Yaroslavl we were met by the head of the Yaroslavl branch of the Peoples Assembly of Russia, Nur-El Khaiev.

We have experienced a great deal of hospitality among the local residents of the regions in which we have organized workshops, but in Yaroslavl Nur-El Khaiev really pushed the boat out. Thanks to his efforts we were placed in a lovely boarding house and the number of participants from the Yaroslavl area surpassed all expectations. Participants from Voronezh, Smolensk and Moscow, and also a representative of the Ivan administration were also present.

We carefully chose the Network of Ethnic Organizations in Yaroslavl as the venue for our training because of the extensive work carried out by both the local community and local authorities of Yaroslavl to ensure tolerant interethnic attitudes (please see http://79.174.72.86/~intereth/News/070706_2.html ) Part of the reason for our decision was so that we could show our western colleagues and our friends from other regions that there are cities in Russia which take the need for interethnic tolerance seriously. I hope that we achieved this.

The aims of these workshops were similar to those we have previously undertaken. Firstly, we tried to understand why young people are drawn towards extremist groups. Then we considered how we can attract young people to take part in antifascist activity.

How to involve young people:

Youth camps

Interethnic events (holidays, discos etc)

Influence of youth mass-media (TV)

Influence of famous journalists

Tolerance lessons in schools and high schools

Interethnic exchanges

Offer incentives

Increase the social status of participants and prestige

Offer the opportunity for self-realization, including career growth

Educational work

Work in families and with families

Offer opportunities to learn about the life of people from different ethnic backgrounds

Try to engage young people in volunteer work for interethnic organizations

Organize joint activities for different ethnic groups focusing on interests such as ethnic heritage, traditions and culture

As with the previous trainings, our European partners explained the different types of activities young people are taking part in abroad. The trainers from the Center for Interethnic Co-operation Ashot Ayrapetyan and Victoria Shuhat, asked participants to discuss what benefits organizations in Russia could receive through cooperation with their European counterparts. These were the answers we received:

Solidarity with other organizations. The prestige of work carried out in your own region

Widening of the target audience

Opportunity to share experience

Carrying out of joint actions to combat xenophobia etc.

Ethnocultural dialogue

Opportunity to use internet and the mass media (international communication)

International ties and mutual respect

Financing of projects

Sharing of cultural experience

Increase of authority for young people, raising of their social status

Expansion of the circle of communication and the founding of ties of friendship

We discussed the question What exactly is tolerance? at great length. We see the active promotion of this concept in Russian society as one of our most important tasks. We asked the participants of our training session to consider the question why is tolerance necessary and in what ways is it positive for the state, society and the individual. The answers given by the groups were very interesting:

Why Tolerance is positive for the State:

Social and cultural

Security and Integrity of the country

Stability and development of the state

Demographic growth, the strengthening of the family

Foundation of a civil nation

Civil Patriotism

International Prestige of country

Demographic development of the country, maintenance of human rights and ethnic rights

Self-realization

Economic development

Social development

Development of economic links

Integration into the global community

Interaction of the private sector with the state

Why Tolerance is positive for Society:

Cultural development, intercultural interaction

Development of economic links

Sharing of experience

Stability

Social experience

Development of Civil Society

Development of democracy

Resolving demographic problems

Increase in standards of living

Increase in cultural levels

Why Tolerance is positive for the Individual:

Confidence in the future

Psychological well-being

Maintenance of personal development

Patriotism

Security

Respect for the rights of the individual

Broadening of horizons and expansion of personal opportunities

Self confidence

Freedom of Belief

Integration into society

Personal security

But what are probably of the greatest value for the future undertakings of community youth organizations are concrete practical events which young activists can use to manifest civic stands and to attract mass attention to the importance of tolerance for our society.

EVENTS!!!!

Interethnic Disco

Interethnic Art Festival

Flash Mob (street gathering with flags and slogans)

Interethnic Film Festival Springs of Culture in Russia

International camp

Joint celebration of holidays (general and national)

Sports day with national sports

Beauty Contest (Interethnic)

Creation of internet sites

Publication of newspapers, books, magazines

Reinforcement of national values

National cookery and costume competition

Work on reconstruction of cemeteries

C.I.C events (for example Tolerance Day on November 16th)

Epigraphs in the city streets e.g. anti fascist slogans

Hold events on certain days, lessons, other events

Interethnic Disco

Intellectual games (what? where? when?)

Sports games (planet basketball, football)

Holiday events (in connection with national dates)

Festival of national cultures (market)

Literary and Poetic events

We asked for particular attention to be paid to those events occurring on 9 November, the International Day of Opposition to Racism and 21 March, the Day of Opposition to ethnic discrimination and xenophobia.

At the same time we asked that they should not aspire to large scale grandiose undertakings, but rather propose things that lay within the capabilities of their organizations. What resulted was the following:

9 November

Cinema show followed by discussion

Press conference

Picket

Silent Procession from Sovmestnoi Ploshadi Street to the eternal flame. Picket with slogans at the eternal flame

Distribution of leaflets

7 November

Film festival of ethnic films, viewings, discussions about the works, a meeting with the maker of the documentary film Scorched by War (A film about the fate of Russian and German prisoners of war during the 2ND World War)

A tower of banners!!!

21 March

Making a banner No to Racism

Interethnic Disco ( D.J contest)

Football tournament including an interethnic disco with elements of various national traditions

To conclude it should be added that at our training session in Yaroslavl we managed to give the young participants the opportunity to take a civic stand. At the end of the seminar a press conference was organized for us in Yaroslavl town hall, this was organized with the help of Nur Elu Khasievu together with the city administration. At the press conference young participants had the opportunity to tell journalists about the seminar and about their other activities. To begin with the young people were a little hesitant, but they soon overcame this and confidently passed this test with honor. And so the participants of the training session not only received theoretical knowledge, but also gained practical experience of how to show their peers their own attitudes to other nationalities, how to define tolerance and express their understanding of why young people should be tolerant.



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