Team Blue in Moskva (April 30 – May 1)

Safe to say, I am generally not a morning person, but I think anybody would be startled by being woken up at 3:30am by a Russian soldier for passport control. We took the night train from Kyiv from Moskva, arriving safely at 10am after 12 hours train, and headed straight to our host’s place where we got breakfast. At 2pm we went to ‘Zero Kilometr’, which is where Dima works. There we conducted a workshop about Civic Education and Fake News. Asking about Civic education, the key words that the participants came up with were: 

  • Not being indifferent
  • Responsibility
  • Patriotism
  • Pro-activeness
  • Expressing own ideas
  • Safe space
  • Tolerance
  • Balance
  • Acceptance
  • Critical attitudes

During the discussions, it became clear that the youth of Russia have lost trust in the media and news, as well as they are highly critical on any information given to them. They realised that getting closer to the truth is highly time consuming and therefor are left with the question of who to trust. 

“I like to know about the issue of the problem of the current state of affairs from a different angle so I follow different news papers, online sites on different levels”  – Ksenia Vasilyeva, 19

“I trust news but not some facts” – Sergey Onufriev, 22

Creativity flourished during the workshop when the participants were given the task to create their own front-page of a newspaper. All given different rules, they came up with unequally reliable front-pages, which created a great discussion in the end of how to evaluate which one to trust and which ones to be taken with caution.

After the workshop ended we were presented with our generous welcome packs of t-shirts from AEGEE-Moskva, chocolates, and of course some Russian Vodka. We then went off to explore Moskva, starting with admiring the view of the city from one of the city’s rooftops, and what is Moskva without the Red Square? There we were able to get a deeper insight into the minds of the citizens and interview people.

For me, civic education is how to be a citizen of your country, how you can change the future of your country, how you can participate in such kind of actions, events, and elections. Civic education is getting the knowledge about all this. – Ekaterina Popova, 22

After a long day, we were lucky enough to get home-cooked traditional Russian dinner (a.k.a. Vodka dinner) at our host’s place, cooked by the locals with a little help from us (or so we like to believe). I must admit that I was surprised to see the resemblance between Russian and Icelandic traditional food, and by coincidence they had even bought Icelandic sardines for us.

The following day kicked off in ArtPlay, an old factory district that has now become home for entrepreneurs, artists and social enterprises. There we joined a training for NGO’s where representatives from five different NGO’s came together for the first time to receive training on various soft skills. We presented AEGEE and Europe on Track to them and spoke about civic education. It was very interesting to interview them afterwards, and see the bond that they had created among each other over the thirst to create a positive impact in their society.

The most important thing that I think about regarding civic education is awareness. That you need to realise what opportunities you have, what responsibilities you have and what you can do in your life as a citizen, to be a part of the society. – Anna Bogdanova, 28 

[Regarding media] There are different point of views, and sometimes from the higher levels they are pushed to tell their lies or their side of the story so you should always double check. – Ekaterina Popova, 22

We ended our stay in Moskva with typical barbecue in the park: “Shashlik Mashlik” combined with Spanish Sangria prepared by Jorge. During the Shashlik Mashlik I used the opportunity to speak to some of the locals to see what they consider the biggest issues in their society. Gender equality did not seem to be one of them, as many of the girls considered themselves to have equal opportunities to the boys, or even more, as well as having more responsibilities in the household. 

I think the biggest issue in our society is that people are not brave enough. Not brave enough to try something new, to meet new people and to go after what they really want. They’re not brave enough, and not active enough. A lot of people are not doing enough because they are afraid. They are afraid to fail. We have a lot of opportunities but we just don’t want to try it. – Anna Bogdanova, 28

Young people all around Europe are traveling a lot, but here the problem is that young people don’t really travel because we don’t have the opportunity to. It’s expensive, we need visa, and a lot of young people don’t really try to travel. I think this is a big problem because when you travel you learn a lot and you see how big the world is, how different the world is. When you travel you can help develop your country and yourself. – Kristina Reshetova, 21

Thank you AEGEE-Moskva for hosting us, and see you somewhere in Europe!

Get a closer glimpse of our trip here:

Written by Rut Einarsdóttir, Photos by Dmitrii Shismarev, Video by Jorge Sánchez Hernández. 

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