"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

10.09.15 11:37

Youth exchange between twin-cities "One Country, One World": impressions of participants


From the 8th to the 22nd of August, 2015 a group of young, dedicated and initiative Ukrainians took part in the youth exchange of twin-towns "One Country, One World", which was held in Eurocamp Helenesee in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The camp was organized by the NGO Frankfurt pewobe g GmbH. Center for European Initiatives acted as a partner of the project from Ukrainian side.

Summer is time of rest and bright impressions, time for fun, positive emotions, pleasant meetings and new experiences. And what could be better than a combination of the vacation abroad and productive exchange of experience with the youth of the European community?

During fourteen days youth from Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and France discussed European values, active citizenship, unicity and diversity, influence and communication technologies for the future of humanity. For two weeks, almost 90 boys and girls aged 16 to 23 years transformed from strangers into a real friendly family. Successfully developed program, interesting classes, sports and entertainment events, meetings with interesting people, excursions and group forms of work in international teams quickly changed one another, giving participants an opportunity to integrate and better know each other, the culture and mentality of the participants from twin - towns. Everyone found himself - a variety of workshops gave fruitful results. The participants presented the Shadow Theater, modern dances and Zumba dances, handmade plaster masks, videos and stories about the life of the camp.

The productive meeting with German politicians became the peasant surprise. They spoke on par with the participants, advised and carefully listened to the views of young people on important economic and political issues. An example of the bilateral dialogue was the conference in City Hall A conference in the City Hall became the example of bilateral dialogue where the mayors of Frankfurt (Oder), Germany and Slubice, Poland contacted with young people, took part in the interactive presentation, discussed the pressing questions of financing of the camp and analyzed group performances about the influence of various factors on the further collaboration of twin-towns and on the future of humanity in whole.

A visit of the former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen near Oranienburh caused the wide range of emotions among the participants. This visit is certainly not be attributed to the entertainments, but should be done. Impression is heavy, it makes people think about terrible deeds and ideas which people are capable for. These places need to be seen in order to feel the pain of the people. During the discussion of the visit to Sachsenhausen camp participants stressed the need of similar memorial museums as an integral part of our history and underlined the importance of life -lessons learned to prevent analogical events in the future in order to value the peace and protect it.

Thanks to the skills and organizers’ seventeen – year experience Eurocamp successfully combined the work and entertainment. Intercultural evenings were made in the form of the fair where participants were tasting traditional dishes, playing folk games, learning the language and traditions of each other. And, as always, sincere hospitality gathered all the participants at the Ukrainian table. Guests admired contests and games, enjoyed real Ukrainian “salo” with cucumbers, danced “hopak” and circle folk dances. For a long time the phrase “We are Ukraine” which sounded nice even with the French and German accent was heard in the room.

The best way to show the mood of the project is the opinion of its participants. Here are the impressions Ukrainian delegation.

Diana Odyntsova: “I don’t regret that I used the wonderful opportunity to visit the Eurocamp in Germany. New acquaintance from other countries, communication in English, active sports, rest at the lake, discussing of important issues of present times, summer festival, visiting historic monuments of the capital and other equally interesting places and, finally, the cool evening with friendly gatherings by the fire made my best impressions”.

Stanislav Sorochenko: "This camp helps us to learn other European countries, their culture and customs. Most of the participants liked the presentation of the Ukrainian cuisine – thy tasted Ukrainian dishes with pleasure. The work in international groups helped us to improve foreign communication. The camp has left different memoirs for everyone: someone met new friends; some improved foreign language skills; and someone met your love”.

Volodymyr Gubskyi: “It's been two weeks of happiness, joy, fun, friendship, and of course language practice. A variety of activities and workshops, exciting excursions, sport games and many more didn’t allow the sorrow to rule the mood. Night songs and talks around the campfire made us closer as a magnet. The only negative point in the camp was a day of departure. Tears in the eyes of children, the last embrace, exchange contacts for future communication simply describe these sad moments. But I think sadness is unnecessary, because next year evenings meeting by the fire will again gather all the participants together. And finally, a great thank to the organizers and camp staff for these happy moments, because without them the camp would be nothing. So with a smile on his face we are waiting for the next year meeting in summer camp Eurocamp”.

Volodymyr Tsiluiko: “During 14 days we were able to make new friends, improve foreign languages, not only English but also Polish and German! We got acquainted with the most amazing features of participant countries of the exchange. All participants of Sommercamp become more than friends. All members want to meet more than once in these camps Sommercamp”.

Mykola Horyan: “This summer I had the great honor to visit Sommercamp camp in Germany. This place combines harmony, self-respect, openness and mutual support. We visited the workshops according to our interests. Moreover, this camp provides an opportunity to communicate in foreign languages and improve knowledge in linguistics. Every moment in the camp was brilliant thanks to organization German partners”.

Andriy Kondratenko: “I spent fourteen unforgettable days in Sommercamp in Germany. I had the opportunity to meet with old friends and new ones. The organizers prepared a rich program, which skillfully combined elements of education and rest. Group work, accommodation, international competition helped us better acquaint with traditions, history and culture of twin - towns, to increase the level of knowledge of foreign languages and learn some words in the languages of participating countries. It is impossible to choose the most interesting activity. Every day was special. It’s even hard to imagine that this project is one year younger than me - so many participants, positive emotions; much new and useful information which we got for all this time.

Many thanks to the organizers - you are doing the good work. I hope that next year we will meet again and as one big family will spend fourteen unforgettable days”.

Mariia Svystun: “It was difficult to imagine what adventures were waiting for you – some of them were succeeded, some remained somewhat in dreams. But I must assure you that the program was the balance of relaxation and fertile plain work. Every morning energizers and new friends’ smiles gave inspiration for the whole the day. Drive rhythms of Zumba will always be in our memory as the positive ones. The most important and most useful thing is the communication with foreign youth. This helps to develop language, knowledge about other cultures and, most important to find true friends forever. I want to describe those two weeks in Germany in one sentence - one country, one world, because all of us have become one big family”.

Denys Diakonov: “Summer Camp is always a wonderful and interesting experience for a lifetime. First, communication with foreigners is always very interesting and useful, and the summer camp twin-towns, cheerful and warm company provide a tremendous opportunity for this. Secondly, light and interesting program of the camp gave enough chances to enjoy all the pleasures of summer with new friends. So, I am very pleased with the trip to a summer camp in Germany, even the longest journey couldn’t spoin those impressions”.

Ukraine is marching to Europe, and this is a fact! The young Ukrainian are not only fluent in a foreign language, but also offer useful ideas with fresh eyes, full of energy, hope for a better future and are prepared to act for their Motherland. NGO Center for European Initiatives is committed to provide opportunities for Ukrainian youth in order to show that they are worth to be called Europeans. Organizers and partners hope to continue to gather young people from the twin – towns of Europe and post-Soviet space in the Eurocamp, because, as the practice shows the youth with its noble enthusiasm, vague desire for honest and fairness is one of the greatest forces of the progress.