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Monday 18 December

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Training in Anapa 13th-14th September 2008 "Youth and Tolerance"

In mid September in Anapa met 45 people for a training and conference on tolerance: young activists and leaders of NGOs, among them members of national minorities. The impetus that the two days lasting event delivered helped participants to understand, how social tolerance can be achieved.

According to organizer and supervisor, the director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, Ashot Ayrapetyan, few time was spend on organizational issues, as participants were perfectly prepared. In general, the characteristics of the Center’s work are interactivity and practical, real-life oriented activities. Through games, we produced impressive results in an easy, unconstrained atmosphere. In changing groups we solved concrete problems, outlined our ideas and presented them to the other participants.


В середине сентября в Анапу на тренинг-конференцию по толерантности съехались 45 человек: молодые активисты и лидеры общественных организаций, в том числе представители обществ национальных меньшинств. Двухдневный мозговой штурм помог понять, как воплотить мечты о толерантном обществе в жизнь.

We began with identifying with whom we’re confronted when wanting to raise tolerance: On the one side typical youngsters from Rostov-na-Don, Pyatigorsk, Astrahan or Krasnodarsk, intelligent, merry and optimistic, on the other side a “Besperspektivnyak” (Person without prospects), potential pathologic lover of beer and cigarettes from, let’s say, Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Yekaterinburg. In fact, this comes close to what described inhabitants of major towns as being the stereotype of an average pessimist youngster.

Then, at the swimming pool of our Hotel “Albatros” we further discussed the problems today’s youth is confronted with. All groups named unemployment, the poor quality and insufficiency of education and the absence of tangible values. In fact, ambition and real possibilities do not correspond with each other; all people have different preconditions for success. The demands of today’s society create stress and lack of confidence, leading to suggestibility and the desire to step out of reality. We uncritically accept mass media information and do not want to search for alternative, more objective sources of information. Today’s youngsters are anxious about the future. That is what explains aggression, the lack of tolerance and respect for others.

In principle each of us understands what tolerance is needed for. But to articulate that quickly and persuade opponents about this idea? It was amazing that the discussion turned out to be different in each group. This in the end allowed drawing a picture on the general advantages of a tolerant society.

Above all, tolerance improves living in general, in a tolerant environment it is more comfortable to live. Tolerance lowers the occurrence of conflict, facilitates agreement and communication. The fear of arbitrariness will disappear, as aggression will only be seen with incomprehension. Thos people who sufficiently know about national minorities will no longer cultivate prejudices. People will be able to enlarge their social network, which is already a considerable advantage. In the end solutions will be found solutions from which everyone benefits:  The work of institutions will be improved, the country’s effectiveness will increase. For instance, tourism will develop.

Take Anapa as an example. From year to year, there are more and more people in the restaurants, the beach is covered with people. We went for a walk in town, sunbathed and swam, too.

Thomas Deisler, German volunteer of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation continued the training. He told us how a tolerant society and the idea of tolerance are actualized in his country. He noted that tolerance is about recognizing other people’s rights. It is a social agreement that is actualized only if all people respectfully behave towards the others. In the FRG can be found many democratic youth organizations which, inter alia, deal with training of youngsters. As a rule, leaders of those organizations become the country’s future elite. Organizations create their own projects, supported by the state and private foundations.

We then continued with the practical part. The workshop’s supervisors proposed us to rate the tolerance level of youngsters in our town. It turned out again that big cities the tolerance is lower. We had the impression that xenophobia is present only in big cities. Which solutions exist? Firstly,   you can go to where it is better. Secondly, you can try to change the world around you, for if it is not you who tries, who will?

We formed groups depending on our different views on the question, which specific youth group it is necessary to work with. The opinion was shared that an increased level of tolerance is needed both among students and among radical youngsters. Groups compiled recommendations for these groups. We answered the question who should organize projects in the field of raising tolerance and how those projects should be carried out. I think that everybody agreed that the main task is to overcome negative stereotypes, study subcultures with the help of encounters, discussions, conferences, camps etc. In this should take part not only NGOs, but also state representatives. Another idea was to visit together the holocaust-museum.