During July 17–25, 2016 Univ (Lviv region) hosted the 11th International Youth Seminar “The Ark” for Ukrainian, Polish, Crimean Tatar and Jewish youth. This traditional youth forum was organized by Consulate General of Poland in Lviv, “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies, Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), NGO “Crimea SOS” and Hnat Khotkevych City Palace of Culture. As in previous years, the seminar took place within the precincts of the Holy Assumption Univ Lavra – a symbolic place for the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish peoples, where during the Second World War Greek Catholic clergy rescued Jewish children.
The opening of the seminar gathered special guests among whom there was Andrii Deshchytsia, Ambassador ExtraordinaryandPlenipotentiary of Ukraine in Poland. During his speech the Ambassador spoke about violence in contemporary international relations, and the role and influence of history and historical perception in modern relations between Ukraine and Poland.
After the opening of the seminar young people participated in the open discussion together with Prof. Myroslav Marynovych, the UCU Vice-Rector; Alim Aliev, co-founder of “Crimea SOS”; Igor Martynenko, Hnat Khotkevych City Palace of Culture director and Wiesław Mazur, Consul General of Poland in Lviv. They talked about the importance of forgiveness and understanding, about moral principles that cannot be questioned and that serve as the foundation for new security strategies.
The next day the Crimean Tatar youth demonstrated the features of their culture and traditions. Alim Aliev introduced the history of difficult and dramatic return of Crimean Tatars home that continues to this day, given the Russian occupation of Crimea.
After the historical questions participants discussed cultural issues. Due to Khalil Khalilov, co-founder of the Crimean Tatar Cultural Centre “Crimean House in Lviv”, participants learned about Jewish music at the Muslim weddings; what Khaytarma is and why it has become a major cultural symbol for the Crimean Tatars; how makamas (traditional Crimean Tatar melodies) can treat people and, finally, why Crimea was the main residence of jazz in Ukraine.
Another guest historian, writer and journalist Gulnara Abdulaeva told participants about many interesting episodes from the history of the Crimean Tatars and their image in Ukrainian history textbooks and the need to move away from openly xenophobic traditions, formed by Russian imperial and Soviet historiography.
At the end of the day participants views “Khaytarma” – movie showing the atmosphere that preceded and dominated in 1944 during the crime against the Crimean Tatars and other peoples of Crimea (Armenians, Greeks, Karaites). After the movie the participants had unique opportunity to communicate with Akhtem Seitablayev, director and actor, TV presenter and very interesting person.
The next Jewish day included different events: lectures on serious historical topics, conversations on difficult past, presentations, master classes, cheerful traditional dances, workshops on drawing and theater skills. Iryna Piskariova and Dilfuza Hlushchenko, “Tkuma” Institute and the Holocaust Museum employees, together with participants of Jewish group prepared special presentation touching such questions as: What is kosher? How many languages do Jews speak and how many languages can be called Jewish? What is Shabbat?
Dr. Igor Shchupak, “Tkuma” Institute and the Holocaust Museum director, talked with young people about the complex issues of the Holocaust, the Holodomor, the deportation of Crimean Tatars and other Crimean peoples, the tragedy of Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish population of Galicia and Volyn. Dr. Iegor Vradiy, “Tkuma” Institute Research Associate, held a presentation “National Movements, the Formation of the Nation State and the Problem of Xenophobia”.
The next day was Ukrainian one. It started with the lecture by Prof. Myroslav Marynovych on the moral strength and heroism of Andrey Sheptytsky and Omelian Kovch. Professor of Donetsk National University Olena Styazhkina addressed the participants of the seminar with a lecture-conversation “Winning the War as a Way of Thinking in the “pro” format” and focused her attention on the features of modern war in eastern Ukraine. At the end of the day there was a workshop on painting on glass and performance of ethno band “Oykumena”.
Polish Day took place in Warsaw. Participants had the opportunity to visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum and Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN. But the main event of the day was the debate at the Senate of Republic of Poland. Among the topics for discussion there were: the importance of Ukrainian-Polish dialogue, the role of youth in building international relations, place of Ukrainians and Jews in the history of Poland, etc.
Vasylyna Zabava, participant of the seminar, shared her impressions: “The Ark taught me tolerance and gave understanding that, despite a difficult past, today our nations together defend our country. I started to think about the stereotypes imposed on us and realized that our strength is in diversity, that we must learn to respect and listen to each other and to start a dialogue on common victorious future. Together, instead of separately”