"Our mission is to assist in the reformation of Ukraine consistent with European standards, as well as to introduce democratic values and develop civil society in Ukraine."

From the Statute of
the Center for European Initiatives

15.08.11 13:36

2011 “Day of Europe” in Sumy

By: Інна Битюк

Sumy celebrated “Day of Europe” for the fifth consecutive year on Saturday, May 28. Honored guests were delegates from the European Union and the embassies of EU member states, led by Ambassador Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira. Because of the success of the celebration, Sumy again was the winner among 29 cities of Ukraine vying to be named as best organized and best attended of all the Ukrainian “Day of Europe” celebrations. “Day of Europe” was initiated in Sumy by NGO Center for European Initiatives in cooperation with the Sumy Association of European Clubs and was supported by the Network of European Information Centers of Ukraine and the Renaissance International Fund.

Preparing for the Day of Europe in Sumy started in March with the “Comparative Connoisseurs of Europe" program during which participants answered questions and participated in contests and debates. No less interesting were the research results from “The European Face of the Sumy Region," in which participants learned the history of European clubs and prominent personalities with roots in the Sumy region who contributed to the development of Europe and vice versa.

In April Euroclubs in Sumy participated in a drawing competition portraying individual perceptions of "I Share European Values,” the slogan for the May 28 “Day of Europe.” The slogan reflected the main purpose of the May 28 event, which was to encourage European integration and promote the study and awareness of European values.

Hundreds of Sumy citizens attended the May 28 celebration, held on a sunny day in a festive environment on Sumy’s Theater Square. Distinguished EU Ambassadors to Ukraine from Italy, Netherlands, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Belgium, and Britain mingled in the crowd after a formal reception. A colorful and lively contingent of young people carrying EU flags and wearing native EU costume paraded from city center to Theater Square.

The dignitaries from each EU country, along with the heads of regions and cities visited each tent representing an EU country. They talked earnestly with the kids about their country and were pleasantly surprised by the knowledge of Sum’s young citizens about the EU. Some diplomats even stayed in the tent to help students represent their country’s history, traditions, culture and language. Students manning the tents passed out small souvenirs or offered a taste of an EU country’s cuisine. A special tent, named the "Express School of European Languages,” offered mini-language courses in English, Polish, and German, and were conducted by native speakers who are volunteers with the Center for European Initiatives.

Additional tents included “Educational Opportunities in Europe” that were manned by those who had experience teaching in European nations and who offered information and gave advice on how to find and apply for education and training opportunities in the EU. The tent also acted as an information center for those wanting to know more general information about the European Union. An art tent was set up for those wishing to express themselves creatively. Volunteers also helped the tent visitors make souvenirs to hang on “The Tree of Desires” representing European values and themes. Special color to the day’s event was added by citizens who came to the event dressed in national costumes representing Poland, Germany, Greece, and other European countries.

Displayed at the event was a canvas depicting the European values of human rights, freedom, and democracy? People could their express their desire for these values by leaving an imprint of their hand on the canvas.

Another exciting part of the celebration was a mock battle between medieval knights as a reflection of European history. The knights’ duel gathered many spectators who cheered on the power, courage, and valor portrayed.

In addition to the activities, food, and festivities enjoyed by those attending the event, an unforgettable concert was presented. A combined children’s choir of over 400 beautiful young voices sang popular European folk songs, including those of Ukrainian origin. An orchestra accompanied the singers and also played classical music to everyone’s enjoyment.

According to the Press Officer of the European Commission in Ukraine, David Stulik, the delegation of Ambassadors to Ukraine from EU countries that attended the celebration were very impressed with the level of organization of the Day of Europe celebration in Sumy and especially enjoyed the motivation and interest of young people in celebrating this holiday.

The Day of Europe celebration extended the next day with Schools № 21 and № 23, last year's winners of the European foot-quest, organizing this year’s foot-quest in Kozhudeba Park. It was attended by 15 teams from various schools in the city and region who came to the finish line after 20 stops. This time fortune smiled on pupils from School № 25 who became the first with the gold prize. School № 9 won second with silver prize, and secondary School № 1 received bronze for coming in third. Schools No. 25 and 9 will prepare the European foot-quest in 2012.

A 31 May - 1 June meeting of Euroclub representatives met at a campground to evaluate the year’s activities and programs and plan for the next year, with the aim to promote integration of European clubs from different regions and establish an extended network of cooperation.