On August 14−15, the Artek International Children’s Center received a delegation of school students from Italy, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Transnistria, Lebanon, France, and Serbia, who had won What Do I Know About Crimea?, an international internet contest for high school students from among Russian compatriots living in foreign countries.
The contest was held from April 28 to July 3, 2017, and the finalists showed themselves savvy of Crimea’s history, culture and literature, answering difficult questions posed by well-known Russian writers, historians, politicians and public figures.
During their stay at the Fortuna Children’s Health Center in Crimea, they asked Artek directors to show them the camp, one of the most impressive sights in Crimea and a national asset.
Artek Director Alexei Kasprzhak invited them on behalf of his team to spend two days at the camp, visit its museums and attend educational events at Camp Rechnoi. The winners climbed Mount Ayu-Dag, went for a swim in the sea, and attended classes at the biosphere station comprising a horse and dog center and a zoo. They also became involved in the Artek-fest poster contest, part of the MUZ-TV festival, and watched a festival concert. They were also taken on an extended guided tour of Artek.
According to Alexei Kasprzhak, “Artek was and still is an open venue for children’s diplomacy, where kids from different regions of Russia and students from foreign countries introduce each other to their countries’ culture, thereby laying the foundation for firm interethnic and interstate ties for the future.”
This undertaking was part of Artek’s educational project dedicated to Crimea, under which children familiarize themselves with its archeological exhibition featuring unique Crimean artefacts and visit Khersones, Sevastopol and other historical sites. Teachers and counselors also tell them about culture and customs of the ethnic groups inhabiting Crimea.
Natalya Goncharova, Minister of Education, Science and Youth of the Republic of Crimea, expressed hope that “These children, after they visited Crimea and Artek, will become devotees not only of the Russian language but also of our traditions and culture. But most importantly, they will feel the unique Artek spirit that will be with them throughout their life.”
One of the winners, Katya Dmitruk (Ireland), shared her impressions: “I always knew that Artek was the best camp: My grandfather and grandmother said so. It was my dream to come here, and I made it. When we were invited to linger for one more day at Artek, I couldn’t keep back happy tears. As we walked around Artek, the boys and I were dreaming of staying here longer. Being able to feel the real Artek life was a huge gift. In Ireland, I went to a Russian school and learned the language privately with a Russian teacher. I am fond of reading Russian literature: My great-grandfather said that you couldn’t learn the language unless you read literature. My creative work was written from the bottom of my heart; I tried to convey what I was thinking about Russia and Crimea.”
The contest was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation jointly with the Business and Cultural Center of the Republic of Crimea and with the participation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of the Republic of Crimea.