International Youth Camp Dialogue 2022: How It Was

International Youth Camp Dialogue 2022: How It Was

The International Youth Camp Dialogue was one of the main events of this summer in the field of international youth cooperation. For the thirteenth time it gathered participants in picturesque Kaluga region, where the ethnographic park-museum ETNOMIR is located in the suburbs of ancient Borovsk town.

As known, the Camp «Dialogue» is a part of the Action Plan for the years 2021-2022 to implement the Strategy for International Youth Cooperation of the CIS countries for the period up to 2030. However, the geography of the popular educational platform was by no means limited to the Commonwealth of Independent States. Armenia and Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Moldova (with Transnistria) and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan together with the Russian youth presented the post-Soviet space. They were joined by the delegates from the recently appeared on the map Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

There was a wide representation of other foreign countries as well. The participants came from Bolivia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Peru, and Ecuador. It should be noted that among the participants of the camp there were many of those who a month ago represented the states of the African Continent at the Russia-Africa Youth Forum in Moscow.

— The event will be held in order to form a joint educational field for discussions and exchange of experience of public activists with different cultural identities. One hundred people will join the camp programme: these are youth leaders, activists of youth and ethno-cultural organizations from Russia and other countries involved in working on joint youth initiatives, announced the event in his Telegram channel Minister of Internal Policy and Mass Communications of Kaluga region Oleg Kalugin.

The organizers of the camp: the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, the National Youth Council of Russia (NYCR) and MIREA – Russian Technological University – the basis organization of the CIS member states on work with young people, have traditionally set ambitious goals – to create an educational space that brings together young leaders and representatives of youth and ethno-cultural organizations with different cultural identities and experiences in order to develop their competencies to improve the quality of their activities in promoting the ideas of intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace at the international, national and local levels.

When welcoming the participants of the camp during the opening ceremony, Grigory Petushkov, Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Russia (NYCR), reminded about the history of the camp. According to him, those who came to the very first editions of the camp have already grown up, but they keep remembering the brightest moments of the Dialogue, interesting meetings and discussions, and share their unforgettable memories. The most important thing, according to the participants, is that «Dialogue» has taught them to listen to each other and accept a different point of view.

«That’s the reason why our Camp «Dialogue» was established. I really hope that in the coming days you will find new friends, enrich yourselves with new knowledge in the area of intercultural dialogue, in the area of culture of peace,» Grigory Petushkov said.

He reminded that the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation traditionally supports the camp and serves as the main partner of the NYCR. In his turn, Artem Fomin, the Head of the Department for International Youth Cooperation and Tourism of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, noted that Dialogue has become traditional for the entire agenda of international youth cooperation both in Russia and beyond its borders.

— Every year the camp becomes more and more interesting. A striking confirmation of this is the number of participants from so many countries. I congratulate the organizers of the event on this success. Without the effort of NYCR, MIREA, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Rossotrudnichestvo, and other interested agencies the event wouldn’t have taken place, said Artem Fomin.

Ekaterina Torubarova, Head of the Public Diplomacy Department of Rossotrudnichestvo, has no doubt in the effectiveness of international youth cooperation programmes implemented in our country and abroad. The main goal of such work is to bring everyone together. Young people have limitless possibilities in this area, she says.

It should also be noted that youth policy is a priority for the United Nations. Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Moscow, who took part in the opening ceremony, was pleased to note that Dialogue remains deeply international in nature. The task of young people is to understand each other, even if they speak different languages. To make this common language a language of friendship and cooperation. This is what the United Nations was created for, said the diplomat.

Areg Agasaryan, First Deputy Сhairperson of the Council of Young Diplomats (CYD) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Director of the International Youth Center, agreed with him. According to him, diplomacy is the ability to find a common language, a difficult professional skill that requires constant work on yourself.

— We are witnessing a crisis of trust in the world today. Everything is built on trust, which emerges as a result of dialogue. It takes years to build, but is lost in one day, says Areg Agasaryan.

Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Tatiana Moskalkova emphasizes the fact that young people contribute to the creation of a favorable environment in international cooperation in the long term. Anastasia Shatilina, Executive Secretary of the Youth Council under the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, read her message to the delegates.

— During its existence, this international camp has managed to become one of the most influential platforms which strengthen ties between Russian and foreign youth. Every year it brings together young leaders and aspiring professionals, international project leaders and like-minded people who are involved in international cooperation and strive to implement their ideas. Despite all the difficulties, this year’s camp brought together over a hundred participants from different countries, gave them the opportunity to share experiences, acquire new skills, and network, the message reads.

Answering the question about the tasks of the camp programme, Olga Popova, Deputy Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Russia (NYCR), Director of the Camp Dialogue, called the formation of participants’ understanding of intercultural dialogue and culture of peace as a concept and as a group process, as well as the necessary conditions for their promotion, increasing the participants’ intercultural competences and other competencies that contribute to the development and implementation of projects in the field of intercultural dialogue and culture of peace.

According to Olga Popova, in the process of Dialogue it is important to identify and consider the current problems and challenges to promoting intercultural dialogue and culture of peace in the realities of participants and society as a whole, as well as to develop possible responses.

The result of the work should be ideas for joint projects and the formation of a community of young activists who promote the ideas of intercultural dialogue and culture of peace.

Right after the opening ceremony the camp programme was presented and participants were able to outline their expectations and form individual educational tracks. In addition, a separate educational session was devoted to an introduction to the camp theme Intercultural Dialogue and Culture of Peace and the formation of a common semantic field. At the end of the day participants went on guided tour around the ethnographic park-museum ETNOMIR and in the evening there was a professional networking session where everyone could present their organizations and projects.

The second working day was devoted to exploring the principles on which intercultural dialogue and learning are based, exploring intercultural competence and the role of a deep understanding of cultural manifestations. As part of the role-play, participants were confronted with the fact that often our interpretations of the behavior of people from another culture are superficial and do not correspond to the truth. In the evening, as part of the animation programme Peoples’ Friendship Bonfire and the master class Music and Dances of People of Siberia participants had the opportunity to learn about the cultures of different people through dances, games, songs and music.

The third day of the Сamp began with identifying the challenges to building intercultural dialogue. Afterwards, there was an expert session devoted to the topic of interaction between the state and civil society in the field of intercultural dialogue. Anastasia Milyutina, First Deputy Executive Director – Head of the Office of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, member of the Youth Council under the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, and Dmitry Gulyaev, Youth Digital Ombudsperson, Director of the Center for Youth Rights in Digital Space of the Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL), member of the Advisory Group of the Alliance for the Protection of Children in the Digital Environment, shared their experience in the field of the discussed topics.

This was not the end of the communication between famous Russian human rights activists and participants of the camp. Together with Dmitry Gulyaev Vu Cha Mi, the head of the Department of International Development of the Office of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, member of the Youth Council under the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, spoke about methods of solving the most acute problem – countering hate speech on the Internet.

The expert sessions were followed by workshops on developing intercultural dialogue skills: Overcoming Stereotypes, Mediation as a Way to Dialogue, Emotional Intelligence, Critical Thinking, Conflict Transformation, Nonviolent Communication. Everyone could choose a workshop to their liking.

On the fourth day of the programme Olga Goncharenko, PhD. in Law, Head of the Department for Cooperation with International Organizations of the Office for International Cooperation of the Working Apparatus of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, spoke about the role of international cooperation in human rights protection and maintenance of intercultural dialogue.

Then, after devoting a practice-oriented block of the programme to the development of project ideas, solutions, and recommendations in the field of intercultural dialogue, the participants finished the day taking part in creative workshops on ethnic themes.

On August 26 the participants of the Camp Dialogue took part in an official stone laying ceremony of the Indonesia ethno-corner. The ceremony was attended by such guests of honour as Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo Pavel Shevtsov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to the Russian Federation Jose Antonio Morato Tavares, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sri Lanka Janitha Abewickrema Liyanage, Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on Budget and Financial Markets Anatoly Artamonov, Secretary General of the Russian Association for International Cooperation (RAMS) Vladimir Polozkov, Chairperson of the RAMS Presidium Sergey Kalashnikov, members of the Board of Trustees of the Russian-Indonesian Friendship Society.

— Today at Ethnomir we will lay the first stone in the construction of the Indonesian ethno-corner. The relationship between our countries has a 70-year history. Indonesia is one of the key Russian partners in the Asia-Pacific region. At the recent meeting of our countries’ leaders in Moscow agreements were reached to increase mutually beneficial economic partnership, humanitarian cooperation, expand opportunities for cultural, tourist and educational exchanges between the countries, wrote in his Telegram-channel Senator Anatoly Artamonov, former governor of the Kaluga region.

A representative of a distant island of Java was also among the participants of the camp. Teguh Imanullah, Chairperson of Indonesian National Youth Council (KNPI) Representative for the Russian Federation, characterized «Dialogue» as a breath of fresh air amid current rather complex situation in the world, especially for youth interaction in the international arena.

— It is a platform for enhancing cooperation between the National Youth Council of Russia and the Indonesian National Youth Council. It touches upon an important topic that young ambitious people from around the world sometimes forget about. Namely, the importance of the listen — hear and speak so I can see you principles. They minimize the prejudices that often arise in the international youth communication process. After all, the essence of cooperation is to understand and accept the point of view of others, says Teguh.

According to Teguh, for him as a representative of a state not from the post-Soviet space, it is important to have a more holistic understanding of the current situation in countries or quasi-states experiencing conflicts, it is important to obtain information first hand.

— This Сamp gave me a unique opportunity to build a bridge in the form of intercultural dialogue, a bridge of mutual understanding between the youth of the participating countries. Dialogue is a great example of how different identities interact, how people from different countries, who speak different languages and have different approaches to solving problems, respect each other,» says a guest from Indonesia smiling.

In the final part of the educational programme participants presented their own projects.

The last day of Camp Dialogue ended with an intercultural evening with creative performances prepared by the participants themselves.

Other delegates also shared their impressions of the International Youth Camp Dialogue as well as plans for further action, both at personal and organizational levels and in the field of international cooperation in general.

Alexandr Tolocenko, member of the Council of People’s Deputies in the Transnistrian village of Ternovca, is convinced that in order to foster cooperation one should not be afraid to engage in a dialogue. We are different. We have our own traditions and rituals. We all have unique languages and different history of statehood.  We need to expand cooperation through culture, music and dance. We should not be afraid to be the first to initiate a dialogue. We need to broadcast and show family and cultural values of our people, says Alexandr.

He believes that the Camp Dialogue is a unique platform: seven days of non-stop mode, rich educational, informal and cultural programme. He plans to hold a Russian-Transnistrian meeting in Tiraspol after the camp, work with and for people, work for the benefit of society.

Dialogue gave me a boost of energy for the year ahead. Cool programme, well selected trainers, extremely rich cultural programme! — notes Alexandr Tolocenko.

Aleksandr Akulov, student of Ural State Pedagogical University studying International Relations in Education, wrote on social media that the International Youth Camp Dialogue was an unexpected but surprisingly inspiring event. We are used to perceiving the differences between us as a huge chasm that everyone is afraid to bridge. And this is what the proverbial «intercultural dialogue» is all about. We really are all different, but why should that create barriers? — Aleksandr wonders.

According to him, as soon as this thought comes to mind, the world around him and people who seemed distant start to be perceived very differently. Being surrounded by energized people who are motivated to conquer new heights in their development, you understand that life is happening right here and right now. And at this moment you realize that you are part of something bigger, Aleksandr writes.

And the most emotional were the words of Carlos Cortes from Peru: I am happy to meet so many people from different parts of the world. The day of farewell has come but I don’t feel lonely at all as we are all under the same sky. I know that somewhere in the world there will always be someone who will remember the campfire or us dancing with as much excitement as I do. Thank you all for the memories that I will always carry with me wherever I go. Now you can tell there’s a guy form Peru somewhere who’s thinking of all of you!

So, during these five days in August, the task of establishing a community of youth activists who promote the ideas of intercultural dialogue was successfully accomplished. That means that the XIII International Youth Camp Dialogue was a success!