· Trips from NY to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan – meeting with Artekovtsy
IXth Festival “Let’s change the world for the better”
Artek 85th anniversary celebrations.
Tuymen Conference in Siberia; Presentation on Artek.
The International Day of Peace is observed each year on 21 September. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while answering the question “What are YOU doing for peace?” said the following: “This year, Peace Day is dedicated to young people. The future of the world – its problems and opportunities alike — is in your hands.” That’s what the participants of the festival “Let’s Change the World for the Better!” which takes place every summer in Artek, Crimea, Ukraine, believe in.
The idea of the Festival corresponds to the resolutions of the 31st (2002) and 62nd (2007) Special Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly for Children and is conducted within the terms of “The International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World” which was proclaimed by the UN. In 2003 the International Festival was recognized by the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF as an event having great cultural value due to the importance of its topic and the special role that Ukraine plays in the development of children’s diplomacy as an integral part of a peaceful future. Taking into account its considerable contribution to the development of creative skills of the younger generation, mutual understanding between representatives of different cultures and the formation of peace culture, the General Director of UNESCO adopted the resolution to proclaim the festival “Let’s Change the World for the Better!” under the patronage of UNESCO.
The purpose of the festival today is to promote tolerance, equality of rights, and pluralism of thoughts among children (age 9 to 16) of different nationalities and religions through life skill-building in a multicultural environment as well as to develop children’s diplomacy. Participants from different countries bring to the festival their cultural program (songs, dances, folklore and theatrical performances, media-presentations and art-exhibitions) and exchange their views about peacekeeping, cultural heritage and human rights. The Festival has its own emblem – seven palms of the rainbow colors arranged in a circle which symbolize the unity of cultures, equal rights for all people, the striving for openness, freedom, social development and peacemaking. And the anthem of the festival is a song performed in different languages, with the following words in its heart “Only this Planet we have for all, let’s make it better for us all. Children of the planet let’s change the world, May it be friendlier, happier, and heard!” The Festival is much like a mini-UN with its own International Press-Center, flag-raising ceremonies, days of the countries-participants, and the Peace Day!
In the summer of 2009 the participants of the Festival agreed to establish the international organization “World Children’s League of Nations” with headquarters at Artek and approved its Statute. The main purposes of the League include providing children with opportunities to take an active part in their countries’ lives, protecting children’s rights. In July-August of 2010 the delegates from 55 countries (including USA, Israel, Palestine, Cuba) gathered at Artek and in the framework of the 9th Festival “Let’s Change the World for the Better” the League held the 1st Session of the General Assembly. Children leaders of the public organizations, young journalists and parliamentarians also discussed the questions of children’s rights, ecological safety of the planet and eco-cities, as well the membership enlargement, funding and publicity. As a conclusion, the young diplomats signed the Appeal to the leaders of the countries whose delegates attended the festival aiming to bring the leaders’ attention to the issues of children’s rights, ecological safety of the planet and creation of comfortable environment for children. Young people believe that this is one more chance to be heard: “Dear adults, please hear us out. We are very different, and this is our wealth; we are together, and this is our power. We build the future.”
I got involved in this project because of Artek, which I used to attend as a kid. And most of the children who have been there for at least once tend to keep love and devotion to that place even after they grow up. There is even a saying “Artekovets today means Artekovets forever” (Artekovets means “the one who attended Artek”). For me Artek has always been associated with public diplomacy, friendship, tolerance, and peace. Since 1925, in spite of the government and policy changes, it has managed to keep the spirit of the International Center for million of children from all over the world. In dedication to that I founded a non-profit organization “Artek Global” the main purpose of which is promoting the values of Artek and supporting youth and children’s programs. A little bear “Ayu-Doug” is an official mascot of Artek Global who is travelling around Russia right now in remembrance of the 65th anniversary of WWII victory. It follows the route of the little Artek campers who were evacuated from Artek in 1941 and had to go through different cities and villages running away from fascists. The main goal of Ayu-Doug is to reach to the children at schools, remind them the history, so it won’t happen again. It will finish its trip at Artek in Ukraine in summer of 2011 when the delegates of the 10th International Festival “Let’s Change the World for the Better” will gather together for the 2nd Session of the General Assembly of the “Children’s League of Nations.”