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Wednesday 18 January

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The project “Youth and Tolerance” on track in Samara
On May 17 -19 the Center for Interethnic Cooperation and the European network for international cooperation UNITED have conducted and educational seminar “Youth and Tolerance” in the recreation center “Nadezhda” Krasnoyarsk area, Samara region.

The training occurred as a part of a project “Making use of ethnic organizations in Russia in order to support the ideas of tolerance among the youth”. In the sequel, the regions of Astrakhan, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Orienburg, Sverdlovsk, Yaroslavl and Krasnoyarsk area are also starting to take part in the already started initiatives. The project is funded by EU as a part of the EU-Russia cooperation agreement.


On May 17, in the evening just like any other an astonishing group of young people gathered together in front of the Cooperation between Nations building, in Samara region. All of them seemed to be so different and most of them did not even know each other. However, the willingness to discuss problems of tolerance among the young people in their area and in the country in general was the thing to have connected them. After having discussed all the organizational matters (part of which was done by the Friendship of Nations and Ani Zakaryan), we drove to the outskirts of the city. It should be noticed that the road is where the “work” in this kind of seminars starts. People start asking questionsWhat? Where? And how will it happen? - But the important thing is that they start to get to know each other. As a result, when we got to the place everyone already knew who they would have to work with for the upcoming two days. And to be frank, it was quite a team. There were representatives of student organizations, youth ethnic public associations, universities, etc.

After dinner we gathered in the lounge where for the two following days the discussions about the methods and technology of how to spread the ideas of tolerance among young people and Russian and international experience exchange took place. This was when the official meeting took place. The young people of Samara were nicely surprised by the presence of Geert Ates, the head of the European network for international cooperation UNITED, Tatiana Vaitulevich – the expert from the previously mentioned network, Kiamale Kerimova, the representative of the International Forum named after Gaidar Aliyev (Novosibirsk), Olga Grafova from the Jewish Charitable Center “Hesed Sara” in Nizhniy Novgorod, all of whom were invited by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation. After the official part everyone was free to do everything they wanted until the next morning.

In the morning on the May 18 the seminar started with a rather topical question- the communication rules during the training. Ashot Airapetyan suggested a few important moments from his point of view and left the rest up to the young participants. The list created by them was not very lengthy; it only contained 6-7 bullet points, which was a nice surprise indeed. However, the most important thing was that for the first time in the history of these seminars all the participants were very unanimous about what to leave on the list and what to chuck out.

In the end, the young people did not agree only with the idea that the trainer was always right. Evidently, this is one had to be crossed out from the list. All the others were relating to mutual respect.

Later on, the participants had been divided into three groups, each of which was asked to give a verbal representation of such figures as an official, a policeman and a typical young person in the Samara region. Each group had only 7minutes to accomplish the task, after which they needed to swap. In this way, everyone made their contribution in this joint task.

Such was the representation of an official:

  1. Presentable
  2. 35-40 years old
  3. A snob
  4. Active
  5. Educated
  6. Orator
  7. Bureaucrat
  8. Cunning
  9. Distant from the people
  10. Having important connections
  11. Highly occupied
  12. Corrupted
  13. Nervous
  14. Not having time for family or sports
  15. Having additional income
  16. Egoistic
  17. Two-faced
  18. Yearning for luxurious life
  19. Career-orientated
  20. Afraid of losing his position
  21. Trivial
  22. Clannish behaviour
  23. Working with oneself
  24. Using the privileges of one’s position
  25. Realizing one’s impunity
  26. Connected to criminal organizations
  27. Adherence to one’s principles
  28. Close-minded on the nationality problems
  29. Bribe taker
  30. Punctual
  31. Rude
  32. A good psychologist
  33. European looks
  34. Untriable by the court

A policeman:

  1. Uniform
  2. Not wordy
  3. Abusing one’s powerful position
  4. Spreading suspicion and fear
  5. Direct relationship with corruption
  6. Discrepancy between the reality and the representation in the media
  7. Lacking compassion
  8. Prejudiced towards the national minorities
  9. Out of shape
  10. Disarray in the law-enforcement authorities
  11. Feeling of impunity
  12. Slang
  13. Fit
  14. Prejudiced towards minorities
  15. Rigidity
  16. Alcoholism
  17. Despite everything mentioned beforehand, we are in need of them to keep order

A young person:

  • Comfortablesportclothing
  • Sociable
  • Interested in things, Curious
  • Always in need of money
  • Energetic, Athletic
  • Having bad habits
  • Athletic
  • Nocturnal life style
  • Using public transport
  • Addicted to modern technology
  • Unwilling to perform public duties
  • Career-orientated
  • Having stereotypical views on life (affected by media)
  • Early puberty
  • Lacking morals
  • Excessively ambitious
  • Freeloader
  • Entertaining
  • Passive
  • Not altruistic
  • Having strong personal opinion
  • Not patriotic

After having gotten such interesting results, Anastasia Sviyazova suggested the participants to try the previously described roles on themselves while playing an active team game. Afterwards, the decision was made to find out what young people see behind the word ‘tolerance’. For this reason the participants once again were divided into three groups. The thesis - “Tolerance – Patience? - Cooperation between nations? Similarities and Differences.”-served as a starting point.

The first group decided that:

1. Tolerance:
a) respect
b) Being open about things
c) Acceptance
d) The realized equality
e) Understanding
f) Ability to interpret

2. Patience:
a) Obligatory acceptance
b) “ Separation”


The second group’s results:

 

1. Patience:

a) Respect (for culture, art)
b) mutual respect
c) mutual understanding
d) yearning for peaceful life
e) openness

2. Cooperation between the nations:

a) Mutually beneficial cooperation
b) Joined value system
c) Geographic location
d) Culture
e) Religion
f) History
g) Partnership


The third group decided in this way:
Tolerance- understanding, search for consensus, respect for moral and cultural values existing in this world.
Patience – acceptance of what comes your way.
Cooperation between nations is in between the two previously named. The key actions would be achieving equality on international levels, the nonexistence of religion and land division not relating to national differences.

The ideas of the participants were very clear. Each group had found their own approach to the questions. Everything what happened after not only gave the serious situation some clarity but also some sparkle.
Ashot Airapetyan put some paper on the floor and asked the male participants to lie on the ground facing it, while the female participants were asked to sit on the formed “carpet”. When the task was completed Ashot asked if they knew what had happened. Everyone went silent. Then Ashot continued: “This is patience, but no tolerance. Do you agree with me?” The audience burst out laughing. All the participants unanimously agreed that it had nothing to do with tolerance and that the borderline between the two often is very difficult to see.
Afterward, the participants approached the problem of the aggression among the youth and its results often leading to such organizations as neo-Nazis in the country. Where does this aggression come from? Thanks to cooperative brainstorming and by crossing out anything that does not fit the ideas of each participant, we have found the answers.

The roots of the aggressive behavior lay in:

1. Upbringing
2. The lack of self-realization
3. Not being able to control oneself
4. The negative affects of mass culture
5. Sexual dissatisfaction
6. Wish to have everyone’s eyes on oneself
7. Demonstration of power
8. Unfavorable social situation
9. Lack of education, money
10. Alcohol, drugs
11. Social environment
12. Financial crisis
13. Envy
14. Influence of the others
15. Not being occupied
16. Negative experience, revenge
17. Having no support from family
18. Spiritual blankness
19. Intolerance
20. Ideological imposition
21. Loss of roots
22. Impairment
23. Genetic predisposition
24. Protest
25. Fear

The problem of violence towards the world and those different to you among the young people exists even abroad, although the ways of fighting it are different everywhere. The participants were introduced to youth problems in countries like Germany, Holland, etc. In order to smooth out the situation Maria Kopelyan carried out a special active game, which helped everyone to regain energy and continue working with a fresh mind.
Before proceeding to another section, girls were asked to describe the kind of girls the opposite sex would like and vice versa. Often people live enslaved by stereotypes which affect all the other parts of their lives. After all the groups had finished their work, we asked them to swap and write in additional features. We got such results:

What kind of girls do boys like?


Girlschoice:
1. Cheerful
2. Intelligent, but not arrogant
3. Healthy
4.Beautiful, sexy
5. Neat
6. Thrifty
7. Able to cook well
8. Rich
9. With no bad habits
10. Caring

Boys’ suggestions:


11. Charming
12. Cheerful, optimistic
13. Attractive
14. Sporty
15. Thrilling
16. Interested in something
17. Economical

18. Not stupid
19. Owning a flat
20. Having a nice mother, therefore a nice future mother in law


What kind of boys do girls like?

Boys think that:

1. Intelligent
2. Ambitious
3. Humorous
4. Kind
5. Trustworthy
6. Nice
7. Active
8. Charming
9. Of pleasant appearance
10. Romantic
11. Independent
12. Responsible
13. Witty
14. Occupied
15. Active
The positive girls added:
16. Intelligent
17. Spiritually developed
18. Energetic
19. Humorous
20. Educated
21. Family-orientated
22. Kind
23. Loving
24. Caring


After that, we divided them into three groups with a balanced number of males and females. The young partakers were asked to create an energetic dance performance relating to ethnicity, friendship and tolerance in 10 minutes time. What a performance it was! Each of them received a great amount of genuine applause.

Later on, we had an evening of sports and entertainments: playing volleyball and eating shashlyk in nature under the drizzling rain. Despite the fact that it was an official leisure time, people were still discussing the topics of the seminar, exchanging contacts and inviting each other to different events. Nadezhda Osipova, the representative of the local administration, paid a visit to this unofficial meeting to greet the young participants and share her joy about young people willing to change something in this world.

On the May 19 we started our day with the discussions on the results of the preceding day. As usual, we divided people into three groups and gave them the opportunity to express anything they got from this experience. Frankly, the drawings were superb! They remembered every minute of the previous day in details. One of the groups even wrote a poem.

We proceeded with the speech by Geert Atess, the head of the European network for international cooperation UNITED, and Tatiana Vaitulevich, the expert from the same organization. The participants asked them a question: “What kind of events does European youth organize in case of absolutely no funding?  After being given some examples they tried to adapt it to their own realities, what made us analyze this question more profoundly. As a result of long discussions, the decision to organize Evenings of Friendship and Tolerance for Students in Samara’s area had been made. They set up an Organizing Committee and set the date and time for further discussions about the realization of this amazing idea.

Since the weather got better, we decided to move our later works onto the banks of the river Kondurch. The idea was received well by the participants. After wandering around for a while, we decided to try and organize a press-conference. In order to let everyone know about the good deeds we do, we have to make use of the mass media. Three participants decided to try themselves in the role of those giving the interview and the rest took the part in the interviewing.
The three partakers: Ermek Amatov from Charitable Foundation “Manas –Ata”, Adam Kuchiev from “Vainakh” and Marina Nikiforova from “Lastochki”- had done a great job and were nicely surprised when we informed them that they could take part in a real press conference together with us the next day in the Cooperation between Nations center of Samara’s area.
The seminar was over. It was sad to say goodbye, however in our native towns and cities we all had families, friends, jobs and schools waiting for us. On the other hand, the pleasant memories and new ideas, which we would all try to adapt in our lives, were coming with us. The only thing left to say was – “Good luck the young people of Samara!”


Anastasia Sviyazova