Unity in deeds: 5 projects that unite Ukraine
Theater, travel, literature, teaching English in Donbas. On the occasion of the Day of Unity, we've gathered initiatives "stitching up" our country
Today is January 22nd, the Day of Unity of Ukraine. 102 years ago on this day in Kyiv, the Act of Reunification of the UPR and WUPR, two independent states at that time, Western and Eastern Ukraine, was proclaimed on Sofiivska Square. Although the events took place a whole century ago, their symbolism is still important.
We'll tell you about 5 projects, congenial to the Act of Unity, that are aimed at finding or creating that common thing that unites us with a shared idea, purpose, and values.
1. Poet from the West and prosaist from the East
The "East-West" project of the "Lileya NV" publishing house in Ivano-Frankivsk is a unification of people from diverse regions, different political views, and religious confessions through fiction. The goal of the project is impressive. The creators strive to ensure that Ukraine will have received its Nobel Prize laureate.
Within the project, they are publishing a series of books co-authored by two authors: one of them should be from Western Ukraine, the second one, from Eastern. One of them is represented by prose, the second one, by poetry. The first 2 editions have already been published: Book I united the essays of Taras Prokhasko from Ivano-Frankivsk and the poems of the Kharkiv resident Oleh Kotsarev, and in Book II, columns of Serhii Zhadan from Kharkiv and the poems of Ivano-Frankivsk resident Mirek Bodnar were published.
2. Carpathian legends for children from Donetsk and Lugansk
One of the factors in the fragmentation of the Ukrainian population is the rejection of the Ukrainian culture diversity. But "Culture is the best tool that helps people from different regions find a common language," says Maria Mikhailik from the Lviv Academic Puppet Theater.
At the beginning of last year, the puppet theater troupe was going to come on tour to Eastern Ukraine: Donetsk and Lugansk. But the quarantine made its own adjustments: "We realized that during the quarantine, we couldn't go to Donetsk and Lugansk regions, so we decided to record the performances and show them to people. To a wider audience than we could've drawn in if we'd visited the East," says Maria.
As a result, by the end of the year, over 250 young spectators joined the viewing of the performances in the Donetsk region, and 180 – from Luhansk. The central city public library in Kostiantynivka even arranged for its young visitors to view the Carpathian legend "The Golden Horned Deer."
According to Maria Mikhailik, people always speak positively about performances, because they can't always see the work of the puppet theater, but now, thanks to the theater, residents of Western Ukraine share creativity with residents of Eastern Ukraine.
3. "Ornament Way": travel from Uzhhorod to Kharkiv
What can promote the unification of Ukrainians more than each citizen's personal assurance that our country, on both banks of the Dnieper, and its people, are equally beautiful? Only if you discover it with your own eyes. The Ornament Way project created a special bicycle route that would unite Ukraine from Uzhhorod to Kharkiv and has become a symbol of the unity of Ukraine. The project's peculiarity lies in its being aimed at discovering the culture and tourism potential of Ukraine for both foreign and Ukrainian tourists.
The route passes through 10 regions of Ukraine: Zakarpattia, Lviv, Ternopil, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Poltava, and Kharkiv; mainly through the countryside along dirt roads and trails, excluding highways, and capturing the maximum number of historical monuments and tourist sites.
4. English to the East
A project that brought together volunteers and children wanting to learn English. 40 Ukrainian mentors from all over the world have joined forces to conduct online English lessons and help to pass the time in quarantine with benefit, in individual lessons, or in speaking clubs. Now the club has about 40 children.
"We work with children from the frontline territories, temporarily occupied, and with displaced persons. Our mentors are conscious Ukrainians who know English and want to help children fight isolation because of the war. The idea involves mentors and children studying online once a week for 3 months, speaking English, learning about development opportunities, training, exchange programs, volunteering," Anna Deviatko, co-founder of English To The East, explained to us.
5. Contemporary theater, teens, and unity
This year, the Ukrainian theater "Actor" showed a performance later named one of the most popular ones among those that have appeared over the past few years. The play was born within the Class-act social project from the Edinburgh Traves theater: children from all over Ukraine worked with playwrights, and the result was 5 plays that were combined in one under the name "East-West" under the direction of Natalia Vorozhbit, the scriptwriter of Cyborgs and The Wild Fields.
What's special? This is the quintessence of the worldviews of Ukrainian teens, whose gaze stereotypes shouldn't yet cloud. If they could come together to create something common, from West to East, then why can't we?