“What really unites people is civic activism.”
“I believe everyone should always stand up for justice. And this is nice, this is a very nice initiative. It makes me as a refugee from Afghanistan very happy and welcomed, and I hope that Ukrainians feel the love you guys are spreading.”
“As a Ukrainian, I can say that the thing that makes us participate and that makes changes is the sense of responsibility for everything that happens in our country and in the world in general. Euromaidan started with a sense of responsibility for the future of our country and the future of our youth.”
Those three are just some selections of quotes from the tour Ukrainian Vibes 2022. The project is now over, all the materials are published, the Catalogue of Ideas is sent to Members of European Parliament and the team said thank you and goodbye to everyone.
Let’s see the team’s journey and wait for it, we have some news for you at the end of the article!
To jump back to the start of the project, the Ukrainian Vibes team was put together in April 2022 by the three partner organisations, the National Ecological Center of Ukraine, Change Communication and Democracy International within the qualification programme ASA, an initiative by the German service for development organisation Engagement Global, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The idea was to create a project to increase intercultural communication and general awareness about sustainability, democracy, and its difficulties within and beyond the borders of the EU. As during the first edition of Ukrainian Vibes in 2021, the project was and is once again based on an exchange between the two partner countries, Germany and Ukraine, and creates a wider understanding of global issues, as well as sensible communication between these two cultures. The project, created by Democracy International in Cologne and the partner institutions in Ukraine, is coming to an end in September 2022.
Ukrainian Vibes was set helping Ukraine as much as possible with this project as the main goal. The project is mainly about an intercultural exchange, but now with the war present, the four organisers were trying to create awareness, not only about the general situation and the serious consequences of war but aimed at finding solutions and promoting possibilities for action for the hopefully near future post-war situation in Ukraine. They wanted to collect the stories of Ukrainians first-hand and allow everyone outside of Ukraine to understand their situation as much as possible by asking questions directly to Ukrainians. The project is not about making anyone feel guilty or powerless by a lack of engagement. Instead, the emphasis is to identify roads towards feeling responsible and display possibilities of taking action. It is about adopting a different point of view. Keeping that in mind, this year’s project is even more important than one could think at first sight.
To achieve these goals, the activities of Ukrainian Vibes culminated in four offline and three online discussions within the European Public Sphere initiative, bringing together as many participants as possible regardless of their origin or their age.
Anna, Olha, Nele and Katharina, the participants of 2022 project, started with the offline tour at the end of June, visiting Cologne, Berlin, Krzyzowa and Wroclaw. There, the young professionals conducted discussions on the topics of difficult history, civic participation, environmental consequences and human rights during the war. Each time the talks took place in the Europe Dome, a wooden cupola that creates a safe space to share and come up with new ideas. In total, the project brought together 60 people from 17 different countries under the roof of the Europe Dome. The participants were especially eager to learn about the difficult past of Ukraine and share their own stories and associations, speculating about various ways to stay engaged such as education or saving energy.
As Ukrainian Vibes proceeded to three online events on the first three Thursdays of August, a total of 174 people registered for the online events and in each meeting, 35 to 55 people participated. Ukrainian Vibes united citizens of all ages and from multiple countries in Ukraine, Europe, Asia and Africa. The organisers, invited experts and participants were touching the topics of the difficult history of Ukraine, civic participation and environmental consequences of the war. As it was the purpose to create an exchange, everyone had the opportunity to share their experience with everyone. Nele, Katharina, Olha and Anna were thrilled by the enthusiasm and openness of the participants. During conversations, break-out rooms and also when using Mentimeter the team found out people were incredibly motivated to talk about digital ways to participate, initiatives for sustainable development in Ukraine and the possibilities for people with different backgrounds to have discussions and exchange ideas.
For sure, this project was a journey of learning for all of the project participants, as well. Anna points out that she learned a lot in a professional sense and also is stunned by people’s interest in Ukraine and its culture, which motivates her to do more. For Nele, the project broadened her skills in project management and the moderation of multinational discussions. The willingness of the participants to actively shape society to move to a peaceful, democratic and sustainable future inspired her. Olha gained a broad spectrum of knowledge from managing such a project in an international team. She was impressed and motivated by all the support from experts. The full-scale war in Ukraine was not the easiest set-up to begin this project, but it was a situation that taught Katharina a lot about the necessity of support in a team, international cooperation, and the presence of basic humanitarian laws like press freedom.
While the team of four says goodbye to you, Anna will stay at Democracy International, supporting the team in other democracy projects. Nevertheless, we are thrilled to announce that Ukrainian Vibes will be revived next year and wish the future team to have the same unique experience as we had. We sincerely hope that next year’s Ukrainian Vibes edition will involve a peaceful and sustainably recovering Ukraine.
Goodbye Ukrainian Vibes and see you next year!