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We must shift the arms race into a 'peace race.'
|International Day of Tolerance Observed in 4 Russian Cities|
|By UPF - Russia|
|Monday, November 16, 2009|
Russia - UPF joined in celebrations of the International Day of Tolerance, November 16, in Moscow, Revda, Yekaterinburg, and Rostov-on-Don. The UN General Assembly established this day in 1996 and asks member states to promote it in schools and society at large.
On the International Day of Tolerance, UPF representatives D. Oficerov and Hayat Kutueva were invited to the “Na Strastnom” Theater Center in Moscow to take part in presenting awards to the winners of the Media Peacemakers-2009 competition. The event was organized by the Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalism with support from the Russian Federation's Ministry of Regional Development.
The ceremony was followed by a performance of national artistic groups from throughout Russia, including those from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east, and the republics of Altay, Dagestan, Tartarstan. Prizes were given for the best coverage of interaction among people of different nationalities in Russia on television, radio, and the Internet as well as in print.
The UPF-Ural branch, sharing purposes and goals of the UN, organized a number of events related to the International Day of Tolerance. Our invitation was answered by the Scarlet Sails teen club and the Harmony family club in the town of Revda in Sverdlovsk region.
A “Room for Peace” was created in the Scarlet Sails club. The heart of the room is a “bench of friendship,” and people who sit there must speak kind words to each other. People who quarrel are invited to sit on the bench and try to solve their conflict through peaceful conversation. Older children decorated the walls. Adults made the bench and small children decorated it with multicolored imprints of their little palms, symbolizing that although we are different, we are always ready to reach out to others with a helping hand of friendship. Parents, children and teachers celebrated the opening of the Room of Peace with a circle dance of friendship of friendship, making a “web of friendship,” and drinking tea.
At school #163, a round-table discussion was held on the theme of school as a social institution for forming of tolerance awareness. The school houses children of different nationalities: Kyrgyz, Chinese, Kazakh, Greek, and Vietnamese. There has never been a single instance of strife among the children based on nationality. On the contrary, the school is famous for its tolerant atmosphere, and parents often bring their children to be enrolled here, because the other children in their own schools tease them and call them names.
The teachers at the school are constantly developing and improving methods of teaching tolerance, so it was decided to hold a round-table discussion on the Day of Tolerance in order to analyze their successful experiences and share their methods with others. The event was attended by teachers of all subjects of school #163 and some other city schools. Among the guests were representatives of public organizations including leaders of the Ural branch of UPF and the Bashkir Regional Center of the Sverdlovsk Region.
Representatives of different religions and community organizations met for a round-table discussion in Yekaterinburg on “Practical experience in creating respectful relationships between followers of different confessions and spiritual trends.”
The topic is relevant because religion is the institution for preserving spiritual and moral values is called to be the school of love and forgiveness. Unfortunately, differing religious doctrines often become a starting point of conflict and bloodshed. Until now there has been no consensus about how to develop interreligious relations or even whether it is necessary. The topic is constantly under discussion, and living examples of mutual respect are needed.
The theme challenged participants to focus on practical instead of philosophical considerations. They shared ways to get people from different religions to start dialoguing. They discussed plans in Kazakhstan and Korea for building temples where people of all religions can worship. Although they held different opinions, people did gain a mutual understanding, and in the friendly atmosphere people decided to join efforts in reaching the goals.
A project called “We are different, still we are friends!” brought teenagers from the neighboring city of Serov to lead interactive exercises about tolerance. One task was to build a model bridge symbolizing the unity and mutual understanding of the competing teams. The bridges had to be able to carry a considerable weight, and both bridges built during the program passed the test triumphantly.
For a reflection by one participant, click here.
On the International Day of Tolerance volunteers organized a very fruitful, interesting, and informative presentation on the theme “We are different! Great! Let us celebrate it!” This is what the initiator of the meeting, UPF volunteer Natalia Antonova related:
With great interest the audience listened to the presentation about tolerance and participated in training sessions in which it was revealed each person to be unique. The world is created this way. All agreed that what makes our life interesting and multifaceted is our individuality! Of special interest was the training session when all participants tried to gain insights into the character and internal essence of each other through drawings depict their ideas of love, dream, and harmony.
At the end, participants organized a small performance. Representative of the Jewish culture sang a traditional song in Hebrew. There were Japanese and Chinese songs as well as proverbs and sayings in German. One element of Japanese culture was hand-making traditional origami cranes. Participants demonstrated their unique talents, sharing with the others a part of their souls and hearts. We believe that the world became a little better, more harmonious, and friendlier because of that.