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Thursday 27 July

Главная News of the Center We’re All Together – Training in Yaroslavl
We’re All Together – Training in Yaroslavl
Written by Alex   
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Specificity of our work consists of often trips to different regions of Russia. And, it is natural, that we have some representations about cities, some stereotypes. Recently one of these stereotypes has been destroyed. During our trainings we usually carry out interrogations with the purpose to reveal a level of tolerance in region, we conduct statistics, and we know that the least safe is Moscow, and the most tolerant - Yaroslavl. So we were much surprised when, having arrived in this famous city with our whole team, already in a taxi we have heard from the driver that, it appears, Russia is only for Russians, and during nationalist processions it is necessary to pelt synagogues with apples. We realize that it is impossible to judge a city on speech of one of its not most significant representative. Therefore in the beginning of our training, during the block devoted to problems of discrimination, we have asked participants to write down on sheets of paper the histories about cases of discrimination occurred with them or with someone from their close circle. And here again disappointment has waited for us. We count as super-tolerant a region in which students arrived to study from FSU republics of Caucasus and Asia constantly face problems with fellow students and teachers and where natives from Caucasus cannot rent the apartment without being humiliated... Probably, advantages of this region consist of not so frequently murders to a national attribute as in others, statistically less tolerant places.

 

But everything in its course. Training has taken place in Yaroslavl on November, 19-20, 2009 within the framework of the project «Utilizing the Network of Ethnic Associations in Russia to provide support for youth organizations in Russia». The project is carried out by the Centre for Interethnic Cooperation and UNITED - European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees and supported by the European Commission. 32 people took part in the training. On the first day a conference on a theme of the training at the Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University has passed. Besides the participants of the training, students of the Yaroslavl high schools, leaders of ethnic and other NGOs and also volunteers of the CIC Elena Ginyotite and Mareike Fehling participated in the conference. The most impressive to the audience were Elena's story about student's self-management in educational institutions of the Great Britain and Geert Ates's report on activity of UNITED for Intercultural Action Network.

The Training began with acquaintances. Trainers Maxim Zhilyaev and Maria Kopelyan have presented each other and asked the participants to, into pairs, also represent each other. Then joint efforts had been taken in accepting rules to adhere to during the training.

Then the participants - young active workers of national diasporas and student's unions - were asked how they define and understand the term tolerance. And then, by a long time developed tradition, it was offered to participants to assess tolerances in region, on a scale from one up to five where one is awful and five - wonderful. The estimation appeared precisely such as we had assumed, on four with minus.

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The entire block of training has been devoted to problems of discrimination. Maria Kopelyan in practice applied knowledge and skills received on OSCE training on prevention of hate crimes. The block consisted of topics as «Definition of Discrimination», «Types and Kinds of Discrimination», «Impact of Discrimination». The audience, near 80 percent of students and 20 percent of young national leaders, has developed lot of data.

The ambiguous reaction followed the request to write down the histories of discrimination impact on people and their response. It was found out that a small part of the audience do not count itself as potential victims of discrimination and its impact. Then the request has been inverted to them to read some similar histories from a manual on training on prevention of hate crimes. Due to this exercise they have recognized their position insolvent.

 

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The next session of the training focused on a presentation by Valence Maniragena, an expert and leader of the African organisation from Saint Petersburg. The role play facilitated by him allowed the participants to take roles of, and thus emphasise with, various different social actors in different situations. This role play left a lasting impression on the participants.

The last task for the day was to make up a slogan for tolerance. Four groups work equally concentrated and creative, and all slogans received approval and enthusiasm. The best slogan, however, was generally found to be the following: "Who are we? Brothers! - Where are we? On earth! - We're here all TOGETHER!"

The evening ended in a club, where the Yaroslavl Division of the Assembly of Nations of Russia under the leadership of our dear friend Nur El Khasiev had organised an interethnic cultural evening for the participants of the training. The evening was finished off with a concert featuring traditional songs from the various ethnic groups of Russia as well as traditional dances. The star this evening was the young Chechen singer Salambek Taysumov. Once again, the evening left a lasting impression on our volunteers.

The second day of the training was dedicated to the cooperation between youth organizations and ethnic minority organizations. The director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation Ashot Ayrapetyan told the participants about the activities of the Russian network created by such ethnic organizations.

The training's highlight was certainly the moment when the participants all chanted the above-mentioned slogan "Who are we? Brothers! - Where are we? On earth! - We're here all TOGETHER!" that they had invented the evening before.

The group work this day consisted of a reflection on the consequences of lacking tolerance on different levels and in different institutions - on a private level, educational, local and federal. The participants were again divided into four groups which all worked on one topic and subsequently presented their results to the other groups.

After working on this task, the participants were given the following question: What in your opinion could be done to change the situation for the better? New groups worked on this question, but again focused on the private, educational, local and federal level.

This was the moment when the training changed from a theoretical debate to more concrete tasks. This time, five groups were formed, four of which represented Yaroslavl and one which represented the City of Moscow. The task was to determine what namely the participants of the training, in their function as leaders of youth organizations, could do to improve the situation.

Every group worked on a project which was then presented to the group of experts as jury. They evaluated and commented on the projects.

Here is how one of the experts, Elena Ginyotite concluded the evaluation: "All groups responded well to the task and developed concrete and realistic projects. The training was good experience and is likely to influence the young people that took part."

The training revealed that the participants understand which problems society faces, the results that this may entail if this problems will not be solved. They have learned which tools there are to solve these problems and are ready to act to play part in their resolution. We very much hope that they will now continue the work on spreading the ideas of tolerance on their own.