During its work for more than 27 years, the German-Russian Exchange St. Petersburg has implemented many youth exchanges and various projects in the field of international informal civic education, culture, history, support of civic initiatives, tolerance and diversity in society. Here we recall only some of those implemented projects:
Community Festivals for Green Cities (2019)
The project focused on the exchange between eco-activists from Munich and St. Petersburg/ Leningrad region. It was implemented by the NRO together with the Pushkin Public Council and the Green City Munich with the support of the German Foreign Ministry.
In the first part of the project, in May 2019, 10 eco-activists from the suburbs of St. Petersburg – Pushkin and Gatchina – travelled to Munich, where they got to know successful eco-projects of Munich and took part in the organisation of a two-day StreetLife Festival, which was held on the main street of Munich with about half a million visitors. You can watch a video about this trip here.
In return, in September 2019, 6 Munich activists from the Green City came to St. Petersburg, where they learned about local environmental projects and presented Munich experiences as well as took part in eco-festivals in Pushkin and Gatchina under the same title Green City organised by local activists, taking into account German experience. Watch videos about the Pushkin festival from the Clean Eco Blog and EcoSanaClub. The project showed that the experience of German colleagues in the field of eco-activism was very helpful, interesting and inspiring in St. Petersburg and its suburbs – Pushkin and Gatchina.
Сup for People and Diversity House (2018)
During the World Cup in Summer 2018 in St. Petersburg, the German-Russian Exchange actively participated in creation of the network Cup for People, bringing together civic activists from more than 20 various initiatives and organizations of the city to bring more benefits from the World Cup for the city residents. It was achieved through cultural exchange, meeting activists and journalists of the whole world with civil society and modern culture and public dialogue about mega-events and diversity as a social value. The network included activists from the “Trava” educational platform, LGBT network “Coming Out”, Human Library, Solders’ Mathers, Crisis Centre for Women, St. Petersburg Open School of Human Rights, environmental activists, etc. The organizational form was an informal temporary network of activists, organized horizontally with the division of responsibilities for different events and spheres of work.
The most important project within the Cup for People was the creation together with the Fare Network, the international network for counteracting discrimination in football, the Diversity House, which worked every day from June 14 to July 16, 2018 from 12:00 to 23: 00 in the space of the Berthhold Center on Grazhdanskaya 13-15. Diversity House was a safe and non-discriminatory space for meetings between fans from all over the world and local residents, watching matches and discussions, exhibitions and parties about diversity in football and society. Diversity House served as a platform for meetings and presentations, discussions, conferences, master classes and educational events for human rights organizations and civil society with interested citizens, fans and journalists. More about the network Cup for People and Diversity House read HERE.
School Exchange (2004 -2018)
From 2004 to 2018, the German-Russian Exchange in cooperation with several German partners organised short and long-term individual exchange programmes for schoolchildren. Russian pupils went to Germany, while German pupils went to Russia, where they lived with host families and studied in regular schools, in permanent contact with their peers and fully immersed in the linguistic and cultural environment of another country.
Unfortunately, the programme was closed in 2018 due to a decline in demand in the previous couple of years. However, we very much hope that the moment will come when we can restart its work.
EU Study Weeks (2007-2008, 2013-2015)
The German-Russian Exchange, together with the German-Russian Exchange in Berlin as a tenderer of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia, organised EU Study Weeks for students on the topics of the European Union and its cooperation with Russia in 2007-2008 and 2013-2015. In total, 5 five-day and 14 three-day schools were organised, in which more than 600 students participated, in such regions of Russia as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Volgograd, Irkutsk, Kostroma, Leningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Pskov, Rostov, Samara, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Ulyanovsk, Yaroslavl Oblast’s, the Republics of Karelia and Tatarstan, Stavropol and Primorsky Krais, as well as in Lithuania and Estonia.
During the EU Study Weeks such topics as economic foundations of European integration, multiculturalism, common history, cross-border cooperation between the EU and Russia, education, environment, migration, and different current events in the EU and EU-Russia relations were discussed with European and Russian experts from science, education, business, journalism, NGOs in lively interactive forms. In addition to lectures and discussions with experts, students participated in games and creative tasks on the themes of the EU Study Week, excursions and quests in the cities where the seminar was held, the development and even implementation of mini projects in groups. Programmes, photos and presentations of the speakers of EU Study Weeks in 2013-2015 can be found on the website of EU Study Weeks, which have been organised by another partner organization of the EU Delegation to Russia since 2017.
“What does it mean to be different?” (2012-2013)
The trilateral project “What Does It Mean to Be Different?” was implemented by the NRO in cooperation with DRA Berlin and the Polish German minority organisation in Silesia Towarzystwo Spoleczo-Kulturalne Niemcow Wojewodztwa Slaskiego with the financial support of the Europeans for Peace programme of the Memory. Responsibility. Future Foundation (Germany).
The project was held from November 2012 to April 2013. Schoolchildren aged 15-18 from Russia, Poland and Germany met three times in three cities: St. Petersburg, Wroclaw and Berlin. During these meetings they explored the cities through an interactive game “Rally around the city” as well as classic excursions. The participants got familiar with each other’s cultures and learned about intercultural interaction. The leitmotiv of the whole project were themes such as human rights, political systems and their relationship to norms and standards in society. The participants discussed what human rights are, their philosophy and history, as well as the current situation in different countries. They got to know different political systems (totalitarianism, democracy, authoritarianism) and their influence on diversity and openness in society, discussed norms, taboos and the situation of people belonging to marginalised groups (minorities) at different times, in different countries and in different political conditions.
The Antistamp was an educational project aimed at reducing the popularity of racist ideas and making the values of peace and diversity attractive to schoolchildren. As part of the project, a team of volunteers learned, and then conducted trainings and classes in the field of anti-discrimination and tolerance in schools, in the NRO venue and children’s summer camps, participated together with schools in international anti-racism actions “STOPRACISM” and “Crystal Night – Never Again!”, developed cooperation with schools.
Personal Memory Card (2010-2011)
The project was organised by the NRO with the financial support of the Foundation for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation in the framework of the programme “Meeting Place – Dialogue” initiated by the German foundation “Memory. Responsibility. Future”. The annual project “Personal Memory Card” was held in two stages: April – August 2010, and preparation of creative projects in April – May 2011.
The work was conducted in mixed groups of German and Russian young people under the creative guidance of artists and photographers of St. Petersburg. 5 working groups gathered interviews and asked the citizens of besieged Leningrad, former concentration camp inmates and war veterans about their fate and life position. The collected stories were processed by the project participants into films, caricatures and photo exhibitions with the help of historians and other experts. The meetings were structured in such a way as to give the participants some theoretical knowledge (for example, masterclasses on interview techniques and “My family tree”), which they then applied in practice.
In May 2010, the project participants also took part in the celebration of the 65th anniversary of Victory in World War II, namely in such events as the Parade on May 9, the St. Petersburg Victory Ball and an exhibition at the Fountain House dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Olga Berggoltz.
Nordic European Trail: creativity, empowerment and intersectional cooperation (2010)
The project was supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers and consisted of a 10-day study trip of NGO activists to the Nordic countries, which lasted from 18 to 27 June 2010. The task of the participants was to find like-minded people ready to share their values, interests and intentions to create a social, ecological and cultural route around the Baltic Sea. Such a route – trail, according to the original idea, could be both virtual and real, but certainly represent various public organisations and civic initiatives – creative, interesting, socially significant for the regions and attractive for citizens. This was the general idea with which the group began its route and which it told, showed and tested by all possible means along the way. The task was not easy, especially since there was no agreement among the participants themselves on what the civic trail would provide for the organisations they represented. However, as the group moved forward, with each passing day and with each new organisation, additional arguments for the overall Trail project appeared. As a result, participants introduced themselves to a large number of organisations, learned a lot and created a map of the journey with interesting organisations that they visited and met on their way.
ARTSOBES Festival (2009-2010)
The ARTSOBES cultural project was aimed at uniting artistic and civic initiatives and dialogue between representatives of the creative community and social activists from Russia, Germany and Europe in order to find possible solutions to urgent social problems and support socially engaged art. The project included both small meetings and cultural events as well as large festivals involving artists and activists from different countries.