On June 29, Goodwill Ambassador and one of the most popular Artek children, Samantha Smith, would have turned 46. Artek celebrated this day with drawing contests, Samantha’s Photograph performance and a Dream Paper Crane event. In order to draw attention to the role of children in strengthening international friendly relations, Artek children suggested introducing Children’s Diplomacy Day, which is to be celebrated on Samantha Smith’s birthday.
Artek treasures the memories of Samantha Smith. In 1981, this girl wrote a letter to the Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, asking simple questions that were on everyone’s mind during the Cold War. In the summer of 1983, she came to the USSR at Andropov’s invitation, visiting Moscow, Leningrad and Artek as well. This young American girl became a Goodwill Ambassador and turned a new page in world history.
Camp Morskoi became the first Artek camp to start celebrating Samantha Smith’s birthday: this is where the little girl from Maine spent her summer session at Artek 30 years ago. Children participated in a quest game on the life of Samantha, listened to abstracts from her letter and told each other about the time Smith spent in the “country of childhood.” Then children also put flowers on the monument in Samantha Smith Alley, which were grown at the Artek greenhouse during biology lessons by children from different sessions.
“I was inspired by Samantha’s bravery and love for life,” said Sofia Timofeyeva from St. Petersburg. “She was not afraid to ask adults serious questions. She kept smiling and saying, ‘We will live!’ That is why she remains an example of being kind and committed to one’s ideals for us.”
“I first learned about Samantha here, at Artek,” said Mael Bernier from France with the help of his bilingual friends. “Just like her, I came here from another country and don’t know Russian. However, it did not stop me from making new friends. We can all support each other, and I love the idea of celebrating Young Goodwill Ambassador Day!”
“Just like Samantha, all of us can contribute to peacekeeping,” said Asel Shagdarova from Ulan Ude. “No matter what adults say, we can strengthen relationships with each other. Communicating in person allows us to break free from biases; I learned that at Artek. That is what Artek is all about – teaching kids from different continents to make friends.”
“Samantha Smith’s story teaches us that a lot of things in our lives depend on us,” said Leonid Mochalov from Odintsovo, the Moscow Region. “There are less and less borders in today’s world; we have no trouble communicating with kids from other countries. We can easily make new foreign friends in online games or contact them on the social media – and it won’t be weird at all! I think this is our contribution to the development of international relations.”
The quest game proved once again that today’s Artek youth, just like Samantha Smith, wish to live in a world without wars or hostility. To mark the end of the celebrations, the young people made white paper cranes and decorated the Smith Alley at Camp Morskoi with this international symbol of peace as a sign of friendship and remembrance of this Goodwill Ambassador.