Breaking borders and barriers in Ukraine
Amazing experience, discovering new cultures and life style, adventures and unforgettable trips, numerous interesting workshops and challenging simulations, hot discussions and debates – all of that in YEU Convention in Ukraine.
International Youth Convention under very creative and mathematical name “Young People – (borders + barriers) = Peace + Understanding”, the 28th annually event, took place for the first time in Ukraine and gathered more than 90 participants from different European and Mediterranean countries with the main aim and focus to find solutions to the equation and identify creative and innovative methods for removing borders and barriers in Europe and its surrounding area.
The participants considered borders and barriers in all their forms including geographical borders and social barriers. Special emphasis had been placed on the barriers which young people with disabilities in Europe face. Attention was given also to the specific areas in Europe and our neighbouring countries where geographical border disputes threaten peace in Europe.
Why was Ukrainian Convention special?
This year’s convention was a two week marathon in three different cities: Lviv, Odessa and Kyiv. Long days of preparation, thousands of phone calls and the day X came - the convention started. And then in the evening we saw each other, all together, near Opera House in Lviv: participants and facilitators, logistical and core team. All of us were different, but at the same time we had something in common: we met there for the same purpose and despite of borders between our native countries, we did not feel them among ourselves.
What was so special this year? What differentiates it from the previous ones? What makes it unforgettable to the participants? To some of them it was the night spent in train from Lviv to Odessa, to others the city quest in Lviv, where the participants had to learn Ukrainian song and translate it into English, to someone the couples’ night in Koblevo. Ninety different characters, ninety different opinions and impressions. At the end of the two weeks some of the participants said: “I wish we had had more time to get to know each other”. So these two weeks were not enough for everyone. In the beginning everyone thought it would be a long event, then in the middle everyone believed there is one more week more but then suddenly everything ended and people realized that they have to say goodbye to each other. During those two weeks in Ukraine everyone became a big happy family that worked and rested together. Even though we had different tasks we all worked for the same aim – a successful convention!
There is no use of describing all the games and activities as they are more or less known and repeated in such events, but it is good to emphasize the spirit the activities were held with. It was really important to see the enthusiasm and the willingness to do something in the eyes of the participants. Then we, the organizers, realized that our work is not wasted, that someone appreciated it. But unfortunately not everyone.
There are always both “for” and “against” in every situation. And what to do? So the organizers had a tricky task in front of them - to break “against” and to multiply “for” which evolved with the theme of the convention: tolerance, mutual understanding, inclusion, breaking borders and barriers. Though we all are from different countries with different traditions and background, first of all we are human beings and everyone wants to be accepted and understood. That is not only the need of a human being, but his right and no one can deprive him of this right. That was the conclusion to which we came.
Nataliya Pustelnyk & Olga Ilchak
Ukrainian Hosting team