Children from 63 countries become friends at Artek

The stage of Artek Arena was awash with national flags at the concluding night of the 8th session of the year 2018. Children from 63 countries, the combined population of which exceeds 25 percent of the world’s population, greeted their peers dressed in national costumes holding up their national flags. The last night of the session, titled Druzhba, Friendship, 友誼, was the expression of the children’s gratitude for the unique international experience they received at Artek.

During a three-week session, the children made friends with their peers from many countries, learned about their cultures as well as contributed to the strengthening of friendship between countries in the best Artek traditions of children’s diplomacy.

Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak reminded the children about the main book of that session, King Matt the First, and the author of that novel, the Polish educator, children’s author and pedagogue Janusz Korczak.  

Alexei Kasprzhak said: “He was a person who chose to forgo his own life to give more time to children. Actually, if he did not have this, he would rather have nothing at all. The Artek International Children’s Center has been created so that you will see that we care as well. We would be happy if you chose with your heart, not looking to see what others do or what adults say. We want you to do what you personally need or want to do.”

The Artek director emphasized that there were people in the audience who did what Korczak did, choosing, from among many other choices - the difficult career of working with children. He said he was referring to the language volunteers who had come to the center from various countries and called two of them – Camilla Ivashko from the United States and Amal Al Ghairli from Syria – to the stage to share their impressions of the session.

Camilla said that her voluntary work at Artek helped her realize her potential and get to know Russia better. She knows now that political sentiments must not stop good deeds, friendship and mutual assistance.

“I have met children from five continents here,” Amal said. “We are not saying good-bye to each other, because we will continue to communicate and support each other after this session is over. Those were wonderful days. I liked my job here and I would like to return here as a camp counselor,” she said.

Children in Syria collected presents for Artek, including a traditional hand-woven carpet and a painting of a dove of peace uniting Syria and Russia.

The Artek children made multicolored origami cranes for the parting event to express their striving for peace and wrote their best regards for the future Artek children on them. These cranes were put into a huge transparent globe.

As per tradition, Alexei Kasprzhak presented the main decoration – the Artek Star badge of public recognition – to nine children, one from each of the center’s camps, who are chosen by the children themselves. The recipients this time were Ilya Frolov from Almaty, Kazakhstan (Camp Kiparisny),  Sergei Almayev from Moscow (Camp Khrustalny),  Kamil Chelmadinov from the Chelyabinsk Region, Russia (Camp Lazurny),  Anzhelika Lyubova from Belgorod, Russia (Camp Lesnoi),  Artur Sargsyan from Ivanovo, Russia (Camp Polevoi),  Alexei Bezgin from Chita, Russia (Camp Rechnoi),  Diana Legchenko from Crimea, Russia (Camp Morskoi),  Kamila Shamilova  from Ufa, Russia (Camp Yantarny) and  Mikhail Kuzmin from the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Russia (Camp Ozyorny).

Homeward bound to all corners of the planet the young people promise each other to keep up their friendship and remain loyal to Artek and its slogan, Artekovets Segodnya – Artekovets Vsegda, which can be roughly translated as Artek Forever. Hopefully, those who have been to Artek will never forget the time they spent and the friends they made here.