Move, Connect, Learn, Empower!
In the context of increased tensions between the East and the West, especially in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, it is especially important to undertake initiatives that will bring people together rather than pull them apart by centrifugal forces of exclusivist nationalism, sense of cultural supremacy and xenophobia. Unfortunately we are seeing more and more young people in EU and in Russia taking sides under the influence of one-sided media without serious reflection of the situation.
As the politicians on all sides are stirring up tensions often only to increase their popularity or boost legitimacy, and as the arms race is under way, it is we, the citizens of EU and Russia, who have to actively engage in promoting peace, dialogue and friendship between our respective nations.
Trust, communication and understanding between elites in Russia and EU are currently at a very low point. However, we refuse to believe that this is the view and the will of the people – especially the young people living in an increasingly globalized world of greater mobility and with more possibilities of cross-cultural contacts. Russian and EU youth share many problems regarding education, job market and political participation.
We cannot solve the geopolitical disputes, but if we can open a few minds, encourage people to reflect emphatically upon the situation, if we can break stereotypes and promote friendship among youth, we can create a dedicated team of young people who will form a permanent network of EU-Russia Youth Friendship Ambassadors – a network that will keep promoting peace, dialogue and friendship between our respective nations with a view to influence public opinion.
The aim of the project is to improve relations between EU and Russia on the level of people (civil society) by engaging in intercultural dialogue, breaking stereotypes about our respective cultures and learning about each other's way of life in order to promote peace, dialogue and friendship between our respective nations.
Specifically, 15 young people from EU are going to travel Russia by train for 4 weeks and conduct workshops in different cities and towns along the way. We will coordinate with local authorities, youth clubs, student associations and other NGOs in preparing the program of our meetings and workshops. The vision is that we can create a permanent network of individuals and organizations that will undertake further projects of bilateral intercultural cooperation, raise awareness of people about each other’s culture and strengthen the friendship between EU and Russian citizens.
1. to get know and understand different cultures bith in EU and in Russia, engage in intercultural dialogue and explore ways in which dialogue between ethnically, culturally or religiously diverse groups can enrich societies, how we can learn from each other – as a concrete result we will produce a list of best societal practices from Russia and EU
2. to fight stereotypes reproduced by media in both Russia and EU and take a different look at differences focusing on its positive rather than negative aspects – concretely, we will identify common problems Russian and EU young people face and share experiences on how to overcome these problems and empower young people to make positive changes
3. to conduct workshops with the aim of teaching transferable skills (Russian and English language, intercultural competence, public presentation, project management, networking and communication) in order to empower young people to act as leaders in their environments and to inspire participants to take an active part in their communities
4. to establish a permanent network of EU-Russia Youth Friendship Ambassadors – a network that will keep promoting peace, dialogue and friendship between our respective nations with a view to influence public opinion and a concrete mandate to undertake further projects of bilateral intercultural cooperation
Time frame: 5 month preparation phase (2 months to establish contacts, draft the program, apply for financing, 3 months to prepare logistical details and plan workshops) and 1 month execution phase
Dates: 1 March to 31 July: preparation phase, 1 to 31 August: execution phase
Provisional itinerary (it is feasible to visit about 7-10 cities from this list): Saint Petersburg – Moscow – Voronezh – Rostov-on-Don – Volgograd – Saratov – Ufa – Chelyabinsk – Yekaterinburg – Omsk – Novosibirsk – Krasnoyarsk – Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude – Belogorsk – Khabarovsk – Vladivostok