Youth Festivals in Ukraine and Denmark: Our impressions
What we found out from our Molodvizh, Opinion Festival and Ungdommens Folkemøde experiences
Over the past few weeks, the team of Ukrainian-Danish Youth House participated in 3 major youth festivals: Molodvizh (Lviv, Ukraine), Opinion Festival (Severodonetsk, Ukraine) and Ungdommens Folkemøde (Copenhagen, Denmark). Our goal was not only to talk about the Youth House, but to see what interests and concerns young people in both countries and how we can tailor our activities to suit their needs and wishes. In Lviv we presented the Photo Lab of Important Stories exhibit together with some of the workshop participants, allowing them to tell the audience about their creative process firsthand. Also, we initiated a “Breaking walls, building bridges” art-project, where anyone could express their understanding of what unites youth. The project was held in Severodonetsk as well at the very same time! We also held a showing of a documentary "The Distant Barking of Dogs" by Danish director Simon Lereng Wilmont, which is based on the story of a 10-year-old boy Oleg, who lives on the frontlines in Donetsk region.
Roman Tyshchenko, Program and House Manager: Thanks to Molodvizh, we were able to expand our contacts with other youth organizations in the region and bring our Photo Lab of Important Stories participants to Lviv to join a broader network of young leaders. Festivals like Molodvizh are great platforms for young people to learn from each other and multiply their impact – the ultimate goal that we in the Ukrainian-Danish Youth House will strive to achieve.
Daryna Koryagina, Communications Officer: To me, participating in the Molodvizh Festival was a unique chance to hear the thoughts and see with our own eyes the incredible creative potential of young Ukrainians. For us, this an opportunity to share more about the Ukrainian-Danish Youth House and our activities, and a way to enlarge our community through the participants of the Photo Lab of Important Stories. During the Opinion Festival in Severodonetsk we showcased Photo Lab of Important Stories exhibit as well as the “Breaking walls, building bridges”, both parts of which will be hanging in Ukrainian-Danish Youth House! We also held a discussion “Opportunities for Youth of Ukraine and Denmark. Are they different?”, where we talked about what both countries have to offer for young people in education, volunteer and activist spheres.
Oksana Nykytyuk, Regional Program Officer: I think that the Opinion Festival, which takes place in Severodonetsk annually, is extremely important for the consolidation of society in the current reality. It is a great platform for dialogue, new ideas and information exchange for young people. I hope that more and more attention will be paid to this festival, which can significantly influence the willpower to build democratic processes and proactive youth in the region.
Andrii Lanetskyi, Administration and Grants Officer: One cannot have too many opinions. That is why events such as Opinion festival are very much needed in cities like Severodonetsk, where people objectively have much narrower and more limited access to information and opportunities compared to large cities. The diverse program of the festival and a large number of foreign guests and experts in various fields made a pleasant impression on me.
In Copenhagen we, together with our colleagues from Danish Cultural Institute, New Democracy Fund and Danish Youth Council, created an interactive stand with many activities intended raising awareness about Ukraine and the Youth House. They included VR bicycle tour through Ukraine, a quiz about Eastern Partnership countries, a wall for Danish youth to write their wishes for the Youth House, a Photo Lab of Important Stories exhibit, a map of Europe where participants can put a pin on the place they have visited. Our Director Julie Arnfred Bojesen also addressed the audience from a special “beercrate” stage and spoke gave an interview to the Broadcasting Cooperation DR.
Julie Arnfred Bojesen, Director: There are many reasons to worry about the future, but being at a place like Ungdommens Folkemøde and meeting all those engaged and reflected young people really stirs the hope in me. We are all part of the solution, and when we work together, we can really make a change.
Oleg Slabospitsky, member of the Ukrainian-Danish Youth House Advisory Board: I think Ungdommens Folkemøde is a very good example of how you create cooperation between the public sector, government agencies and youth initiatives. It was great to see high school and university students learn about the basics of democracy, human rights, politics in a relaxed format that combines informal education, networking, leisure, and various interactive locations.
Mykhailyna Moskalenko, member of the Ukrainian-Danish Youth House Advisory Board: I believe Ukraine should borrow Denmark's experience in holding events like Ungdommens Folkemøde to increase young people's social activity and give them the opportunity to express their opinions and be heard. The festival organizers managed to create a comfortable environment where high schoolers could learn about existing organizations and their activities. I was very glad to talk to young Danes and tell them more about Ukraine.