“Minorities on Stage” at the Diversity Festival 2016

Moscow, Москва́ …

This year, from August 7-14 we had the pleasure to run the Diversity Festival for the second time. After this event happening in Bautzen/Budyšin (Germany) last year, it was now time to travel to Moscow (Russia). For many participants the perfect opportunity to go trough the excruciating process of getting their passports updated!
The organisations that made this beautiful festival happen this year, were, next to YEN, the Youth Association of the Germans in Russia JdR (Jugendring der Russlanddeutschen) and the German Youth in Europe DJO (Deutsche Jugend in Europa).

More than 100 participants from 15 different minorities in Europe flew, drove and marched long distances in order to get to Moscow and not to miss out on this year’s festival.

Between morning sports and the Diversiade

In order to keep the participants from just staring at the clouds and prevent them from getting silly ideas out of boredom, the orga-team had prepared a well-conceived program.
On Sunday, the arrival day, three sightseeing-tours were offered through Moscow, in order for the participants to see the magnificent capital live and in color under a brightly shining sun.
Besides visiting Moscow’s beautiful metro stations with escalator-supervision, and a mall only for children and young adults, the tour was furthermore leading us to the Red Square where taking photos found no limits – of course they had to show their families and friends that they really arrived in Moscow!
Just after the beautiful tour through the city, we met at the German-Russian House for a get-to-know-each-other-evening. Small games made the participants talkative. Now it became quite clear why this event was called Diversity Festival!

On Monday it was all about the Opening Ceremony. After a successful round of introductions and the welcoming words of the organizer and partners, we got to the introduction of the most important part of the Festival; the workshops! Director Milena Olip (Carinthian Slovene) introduced us to the work which would be awaiting us in the upcoming days.
In the evening we were once again forced to pack our belongings and go on our merry way to the Arthurs Spa Hotel in the outskirts of the city. In this way we could concentrate fully and as undisturbed as possible on the preparation of our Diversity Festival, which would be at the end of the week.

On Tuesday and the days after we started our mornings with well balanced morning sports! After the breakfast it was time for the daily JdR alarmclock, which woke up even the grumpiest people out of their deep slumber.
With a light and catchy “Chocolate” earworm we hurried up to take part in the Discussion Platforms, where we addressed topics which were and still are relevant for us as minorities. Such themes were for example discrimination and culture, with roleplays relating to traditions vs. modernization, but also the mutual building of bridges! The participants were divided into different groups, that represented modern, conservative, liberal and traditional mindsets. These groups were asked to create concepts and strategies to convince the others of their ideas and opinion. It didn’t take long before the discussions became heated and exciting- even though some participants got alarmed by their own statements. But in the end it was only a role playing game, thankfully.

Of course our #DiversityConnects Campaign could not be missing from the Discussion Platforms. With the creation of a minority superhero the participants could let their imagination run free and wild, and their results were stunning. We wouldn’t be surprised to see one or the other minority superhero side by side with Ironman and others on the silver screen.

Directly after these discussions we hurried to one of the five workshops: Social Media, Photography, Dance, Choir and Theater, whose final results you’ll get to see at the end of this article!

An exciting program was also awaiting us every evening!

On Tuesday we also built a city. The basic task was to built a famous cultural site from a country of choice. With saws, nails and paint…
Even though many were a bit skeptical about this whole thing, the end results were astonishing. One Romansh from Switzerland was even eager to directly move into his newly created architectural structure!

Like in every YEN event, there was of course an Exchange Market taking place; which meant traditional culinary delicacies, drinks, colorful costumes and a variety of information materials from and about the different minorities as far as the eye could see.
To free us of some of the surplus of devoured calories, the organizers had a good solution the next day: the Diversiade, a minority version of the Olympic Games. Four teams bravely competed against each other in some really challenging activities, in order to get hold of the gold medal. But as we all know “Being there is everything”, that’s why it is not important to mention the winning team! 😉

Because it was so much fun, and of course because we were so productive, time went way too fast. After what felt like 210031,4 emptyings of the bins within four days in our Spa Hotel, we had to return to beautiful Moscow to perform the final show.
With some professional help from our workshop leaders, the performance was a huge success!


To give you an idea of what the workshops and the final performance on stage were like, the photography workshop created a short video:

On Saturday evening the Diversity Festival 2016 came to its end at the Flakon, Moscow, , with fancy food, drinks and some amazing live music.

Thanks thanks thanks!

Last but not least, we would like to thank all the ones who supported and joined us. Without them this Festival wouldn’t have been possible!
Thanks to the workshop leaders, Milena Olip, Majda Krivograd, Natalia Altner, Konstantin Boas and Elena Danilejko for motivating and training the participants.
Another big thanks for the inspiring talks at the opening ceremony to Werner-Dieter Klucke, Director of the Cultural Department of the German Embassy in Russia, Julia Grishenkova, Head of the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Moscow, Olga Martens, Vice-President of FUEN, first deputy of the president of International Union of German culture (MSNK), Olga Evko, head of the International Relations Division of the Federal agency for Youth Affairs, Elda Medoeva, Councilor of the Department of National Policy and Interregional Connections in the Moscow government, Alexander Bolotnov, Coordinator of International Programmes of the National Council for Children and Youth Associations in Russia, Hetav Tek, President of the German Youth in Europe (DJO), Britta Tästensen, President of the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN) and Margarita Bauer, President of the German Youth Organization in Russia (JdR).
And to all the organizers and volunteers, thank you! The event was supported by the EYF (European Youth Foundation).

See you soon at the next YEN- event!


Photos: Dmitry Ryzkov (SFMEDIA)