Artek hosts roundtable discussion and fair of cultures on International Friendship Day

Artek celebrated International Friendship Day, with children from 32 countries holding a roundtable discussion and focusing on mutual dialogue and global diversity. Federation Council member Olga Timofeyeva attended the discussion as a guest of honor. That same day, the center’s Russkaya Polyana hosted a vibrant fair of national cultures, providing an insight into the history of various countries and their traditions. Children who attended the fair gained unique experience in international communication.

Children from all continents spent the latest session at Artek telling their peers about their respective countries, establishing new cultural ties and making friends with other holidaymakers from all over the world. On July 30, Artek marked International Friendship Day, with its Suuk-Su Palace hosting a roundtable discussion called The Russian World without Borders. The discussion involved 50 members of the Yunost (Youth) international club, namely, young people from 32 countries who are interested in Russia, its language and culture, including those with Russian backgrounds who want to learn more about their historical homeland.

In December 2017, it was decided to bring together Russian-speaking children living abroad, said club coordinator Svetlana Safa from Lebanon. “First, this was an improvised social network club, but its members quickly started communicating on a new level. The Artek Support Fund met us halfway and invited club participants to spend an international session here. Children tell everyone about their countries with pride and love, and each of them acts as part of the big Russian World. We believe that such face-to-face conversations help actively involve children in the compatriots’ movement; this strengthens their ties with Russia and helps expand public diplomacy all over the world,” she noted.

Federation Council member Olga Timofeyeva, who sits on the upper parliament house’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, became the forum’s guest of honor. While talking to the children, she noted that the current Artek session united children from 63 countries and was therefore erasing borders. “We remove all barriers when we are ready to hear each other and to jointly chart and accomplish tasks. Meetings like this one aim to teach us to trust each other and to take responsibility for our words. The big outside world will become more open if we learn this in a ‘small world’ called Artek,” she added.

Each discussion participant strove to share his or her stories with others. Children discussed their lives and hobbies, as well as their countries’ history and culture, and they said it was very important for them to feel connected to Russia. “Just like many other people present here, I have Russian roots, but I study at an English-language school,” Dalya Al-Sharif from Qatar said. “A surprising thing quickly happened to all of us at Artek: When the session began, many of us did not speak Russian very well, and we tried to speak English instead. Today, all of us speak Russian. To my mind, each of us sees this as a powerful incentive for development and for comprehending our place in the world,” she added.

That same day, Artek’s Russkaya Polyana hosted a fair of national cultures, with children from all Artek camps learning more about the cultures of all 63 countries (whose representatives attended the current Artek session) through conversations, games and creative work. Dazzling costumes, diverse dances and songs, history and geography quizzes, national-dish recipes and workshops are just part of the huge festival program.

“Today, children from China helped me write characters (hieroglyphs) with a brush for the first time,” Mariana Malo from Mexico noted. “They also wrote all kinds of best wishes in Chinese on a beautiful fan and gave it to me. In our hot country, fans are part of a person’s everyday look, but my fan will be something unique. I talked to children from Spain; they have a beautiful flag and nice-looking national costumes, and their food is tasty. The most interesting thing is that, although all of us speak one and the same language and mostly understand each other, its ‘Spanish’ and ‘Mexican’ versions are quite different. Children from all continents are staying here today, and I can see how much they love their countries. Besides, I can feel that they are proud of their traditions and heritage. Artek shows that we can have different views, but it is very important to understand and respect each other. In the long run, all of live on one big planet Earth, and one can see this clearly here.”