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UkraineLab Forum in Berlin: Diversity as an Opportunity

The 4th UkraineLab Forum this year took place in Berlin. A large gathering of Ukrainian activists too place 19 – 22 of September under the topic The Polyphony of Activism.  Exploring the European identity.  The main topics of the UkraineLab forum in Berlin dealt with the dimensions of activism in Ukraine and Europe today and how they are changing according to social and political agenda, what does the idea of social diversity in Ukraine and Germany mean, what challenges and opportunities does it open for activists.

The forum gathered around 200 cultural and civic activists from Ukraine, Germany, and other countries to provide them the space to talk about diversity in German and Ukrainian societies and new activism in both countries.  UkraineLab created an opportunity to listen to the true stories of Ukrainian activists first hand, to ask questions about Ukraine and to speak about it openly and critically.

Sixteen open events took place during the forum at more than 10 locations around Berlin including the Embassy of Ukraine and The Centre for Art and Urbanism Z/KU.

The forum started with an interactive museum of the stories of a new activism in and/or for Ukraine and Europe.  Nine personal stories of activism were shown through various media forms;  story-tellers from the fields of music, human rights, education, community development, and politics were present at the opening as well.

The official opening of the UkraineLab forum took place in the Berlin office of the Robert Bosch Foundation.  Among the participants were: Annegret Wulff (Coordination Department of Active Citizenship, MitOst e.V.), Ekkehard Brose (Authorized representative in crisis negotiation and stabilization, Federal Foreign Office), and Oleh Mirus (Counselor Envoy of the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany).

 UkraineLab aims at creating a platform for communication and a network of people, interested in Ukraine. Thus, the partnership & tools fair LinkLab was an important part of the forum where 40 initiatives from different regions of Ukraine and from other countries were presented. Among them were the Minor Academy of Science of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine), Institute for Peace and Common Ground (Kyiv, Ukraine), Humanistic Technologies Center AHALAR (Chernihiv, Ukraine), STAN art movement (Luhansk – Ivano-Frankivsk), Etc. Foundation (Warsaw, Poland), East Ukrainian Volodymyr Dahl National University (Luhansk – Severodonetsk, Ukraine), Khata-Maisternia (Babyn, Ukraine), Impact Hub Odessa (Odesa, Ukraine), Warm City (Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine) and others.

Two public discussions took place during the forum. Ukraine in the Eyes of Europe: Shaping the Image tackled the topic of who and how shapes the image of Ukraine in Great Britain and Germany, and what this image looks like.  The podium discussion Diversity: Potentials and Challenges for Ukraine on the limits of diversity and boundaries of identity closed the forum on 22 September.

Among public events of UkraineLab forum as a part of a cultural cluster was a cultural diplomacy street action.  It took place on 21 September – the World Peace Day at Potsdamer Square in the center of Berlin.  Participants involved people passing by into conversations about Ukraine and peace, borders and stereotypes.  Passers-by could leave wishes for peace to Ukraine on a map drawn on the ground in their language.

The handbook Diversity Dynamics: Activating the Potential of Diversity in Trainings, popular ethnography project Ukraїner, innovational scientific works of Ph.D. students and young scientists from Ukrainian-German context, publication #EngagEUkraine. Engagement der Ukrainer in Polen und Deutschland” (Civic engagement of Ukrainians in Poland and Germany), digital stories of new activism by Active YOUkraine” were presented and discussed at UkraineLab forum.

UkraineLab also engaged cultural actors from the fields of literature and music. Piano concert by Lubomyr Melnyk, literary readings with Sofia Andrukhovych, Andriy Bondar, Bogdan Logvynenko, Volodymyr Rafeenko, a concert of an indie-rock band from Kyiv “5 Vymir” as well as a night of Documentary: “Diversity in Ukraine” were all part of the forum. A simulation game “Quo Vadis” from CRISP was also in the forum’s program where participants had a chance play the roles of Ukrainian politicians.

The next UkraineLab forum is planned to take place in the city of Kherson, Ukraine.

About UkraineLab:

The UkraineLab is an interdisciplinary platform for effective networking and cross-sectoral collaboration for change agents working on innovative development projects in and for Ukraine. It is a think tank where visions and innovations for civil society and culture can be born as well as a do tank where these ideas can be immediately tried out in practice and transferred into real partnerships.

The Ukrainian side of the Forum UkraineLab is represented by the NGO Insha Osvita whose activity covers whole Ukraine since 2010 and focuses on quality management of non-formal education and adult education. Forum’s partner from the German side is the Association MitOst, which has been developing a diverse and open network in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe with its eastern neighbours for 15 years in a row already. The Forum “UkraineLab: Playing polyphony of the society. Exploring the European identity” is held as a part of the project Dialogue for Change supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

Contacts: facebook.com/UkraineLab and ukrainelab@mitost.org

 

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