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Service Programs

Baikal Forum Promotes Ecotourism and Inspires Local Volunteers

Slyudanka, Russia - The 4th Baikal Volunteer Forum, July 8 to 21, was organized by volunteers with support of UPF and several other non-profit organizations.

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The organizers of the forum focused on promoting the tourist attractiveness of the town of Slyudyanka, participation of the local community in regional development, and educational programs for the delegates of the Forum, who to encourage them to make volunteering a way of life. Also, considering that this year's Forum attracted a rather small number of volunteers, the organizers sought to make the program interesting and useful both for first-time participants and for those returning a second or third time. The 11 core participants included leaders of student volunteer teams in the region, activists in volunteer projects from the Urals and the Irkutsk region, and volunteers from Moscow and Novosibirsk.

The first part of the forum was held in the city of Slyudyanka and on the shore of Lake Baikal. During the second part, the volunteers made a camping trip into the mountains of Khamar-Daban and visited unique areas of natural beauty.

The forum aims to implement the following goals and objectives:

Developing relations with the citizens, businesses, and administrators in Slyudyanka

The forum is aimed at strengthening social activity of the local population and is considered by the organizers a platform where interaction of visitors-volunteers and the local population can produce good results, thanks to inspiration and enthusiasm of the visitors-volunteers and personal interest of the local population.

Participants in 2013 sought to stimulate local residents to take a new look at their colleagues, neighbors, and relatives, from the point of view of social activity. Through personal meetings and round tables, the volunteers of the forum presented the idea of creating an informational portal for tourism and volunteerism in Slyudyanka and the surroundings. The following meetings were held:

• Meeting with librarians of inter-settlement Central Library of the Slyudyanka district. In addition to exploring and presenting the objectives of the Forum, the volunteers helped organize a celebration of the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity on the premises of the library. They also conducted seminars on volunteering and peacemaking at the library
• Meeting with the Head of the Slyudyanka municipality: Sendzyak V.N.
• Meeting with representatives of the Azimut tourism company
• Meeting with the editors of the local independent newspaper Sludyanka: Poltoraduadko V.A. and Poltoradyadko M.V.
• Meetings, communications, and interaction with local activists: Alekseev N, Beloborodov L.A., Trifonov V. N., Chikunovs D. and M. and others

Volunteer activities in Slyudyanka and on the shore of Lake Baikal

Volunteer made improvements and repairs as well as conducted cultural and educational events:
• Volunteer participation in conducting the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity celebration, initiated by the inter-settlement central library of the Slyudyanka district
• Beautification and arranging in the beach park
• A cleaning day at the children's beach with families from Slyudyanka. The city administration provided paint, bags, gloves, and equipment for garbage removal
• Plans ofr creating a platform overlooking the Slyudyanka and the Baikal Lake in 2014, including a memorial for Japanese prisoners of war who died in Slyudyanka between 1946 and 1948
• The Slyudyanka administration organized a roundtable on increasing the attractiveness of the area for tourists; the event was attended by representatives of administration, deputies of the city duma and city business; they discussed the idea of creating an informational web portal for tourism and volunteering in the area
• Created a prototype of a Slyudyanka tourism brochure for promoting an informational web portal, issued booklets
• Organized a communications club and conducted evening master-classes on dances, games, and sharing in the city and on the beach
• Created a form to solicit ads for the web portal
• Participated in a master-class on cooking dishes of the Buryat style as a way of getting to know local people

Hiking in the mountains

Hiking in the mountains is an important part of the Baikal volunteer forum. During the hike in the Hamar-Daban mountain range, volunteers of the project got acquainted with the natural features of the Baikal region: they visited waterfalls on Podkomarny River, Cherskiy Peak, and the Devil's Gate mountain pass.

Educational program

Educational programs focused on personal growth, development of volunteering, and peacemaking initiatives including trainings, discussions, interactive lectures. Sharing experiences contributed to development of friendly relations between the volunteers. Educational program 2013 included the following elements:

• Workshop on volunteering called Values in Action! included presentations about Value-oriented volunteerism (led by Eugene Skvortsov, Ekaterinburg), Personal experience and personal growth through participation in volunteer projects (led by Ralif Galiev, Ufa), Volunteerism and civil society development (led by Tatiana Turchaninova, Ekaterinburg), and From the student volunteer team to creating a self-help center in the Transbaikal Region (led by Nadezhda Nizhegorodtseva, Chita)
• Workshop on peacemaking on the theme of Youth hoping for peace. Topics of presentations included Peacemaking as a continuation of volunteering (led by Tatiana Turchaninov), Young Ambassadors for Peace as a model of peacemakers (led by Eugene Skvortsov), and the Sports for Peace program and sharing experiences about organizing sports events (led by Ralif Galiev)
• During the hike in the mountains, there were discussions and trainings about carrying out volunteer and peacemaking initiatives to promote personal growth. Topics included: The value of our life, Conflict resolution, Overcoming resentment and the path of a peacemaker, and the Four realms of heart as an approach to organizing volunteer projects
• An innovative element of the program was a role-playing activity called Glorious volunteer and collecting materials for a film about the Baikal Volunteer Forum

Prospects for development

The organizing committee of the Baikal Volunteer Forum offered two proposals: to developing tourist attractiveness of the region and stimulate local volunteer involvement:
• Create an Association of Baikal Volunteer Forum participants for further exchanges of experience in volunteering and collaborative learning through monthly meetings and using information and communication technologies
• Develop the 2014 program in coordination with the organizing committee, collecting proposals, planning volunteer, cultural, educational, and sports events, taking into account the objectives of the Baikal Volunteer Forum
• Create workbooks on the application of value-oriented approach in organizing volunteer actions based on the experience of previous forums, collecting comments and interviews from 2013 participants
• Increase the involvement of the local population through a network of activists, relationships with civil society institutions, representatives of business and local authorities, involving them in the creation of an informational web portal for tourism and volunteering and developing the 2014 program
• During the autumn of 2013, start collecting tools and developing the informational portal for tourism and volunteer actions in Slyudyanka and the nearby natural and regional territories

Web reference


Project details:

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