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An Image of the Future is Being Created in Sochi

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An Image of the Future is Being Created in Sochi


Svetlana Smetanina

From 14-22 October, Russia is hosting the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students. Although its main venue will be the Sochi Olympic Park, the festival will have a truly nationwide scope: 15 regions will host participants for the festival. And it all begins with a vibrant carnival, which will go from the Kremlin to Luzhniki Stadium.

The year 2017 marks an anniversary for the World Federation of Democratic Youth. The first Festival of Youth and Students took place in Prague seventy years ago. Its central ideas had already taken shape then: the fight for peace, antifascism, internationalism, and youth rights. Today the festival’s motto is: “For peace, solidarity, and social justice we fight against imperialism – Honoring our past we build the future!”

At Moscows Zaryadye Park the official Festival uniform was presented.

(Photo: The Festivals Facebook page)

Russia has already hosted the Word Festival of Youth and Students twice, in 1957 and 1985. But that was back during the Soviet period, when the government supported the ideas of leftist movements in other countries. Today the festival is being hosted by a Russia that doesnt seem to place the same premium on the battle against global imperialism. Though, on the other hand, international affairs have taken a turn that once again places Russia at odds with a collective West. Its no accident that the President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, Nikolas Papadimitriou, observed in a TASS press conference: Despite the aggressive policies of the US, we have managed to assemble youth from all over the world in Russia.

Nikolas also promised to remember the October Revolution—the socialist revolution that will mark its one-hundred-year anniversary right after the festivalas well as every person who made a substantial contribution to the struggle against global imperialism. In general, the shades of great revolutionaries will doubtless attend this event unseen.

And it all begins just as it did 60 years ago (way back in 1957): in Moscow. On 14 October, more than 30,000 students and 450 foreign delegates will gather right outside the Kremlin to participate in an 8 km celebratory procession to the Luzhniki Stadium. They will be singing and dancing as they walk, since the participants in the parade will reenact the most famous festivals in the world: the Brazilian Carnival, Dutch Tulip Festival, and the Cherry Blossom Festivalas well as the Moscow festivals of 1957 and 1985.

Festival participants remember previous Festivals of Youth and Students held in Russia.

(Photo: The Festivals Facebook page)

Another unusual aspect of the World Festival of Youth and Students is that it will be spread across the entire country. Two thousand foreign participants will visit fifteen Russian regions from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad. In each region they will be met with a different program. For instance, in Udmurtia visitors will be greeted by the Buranovskie Babushki music group, in Orenburg they will see the worlds largest shawl in the regions distinctive design, in Tyumen they will have normal family dinners with local residents, and in Makhachkala they will even visit the local resort spa. Overall, the organizers strove to make the festival events a first-rate showcase of Russias region. Interestingly, the most foreign participants chose Sebastopol over any other citythe fifty people going there represent a range of countries, including the USA, Great Britain, France, and Germany.

The Festivals opening ceremony will take place on 15 October in the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the Sochi Olympic Park. According to the chief director for Festival preparations and operations, Ksenia Razuvaeva, the main idea behind this event is to show real young people who will change the world for the betterfor instance, a young lawyer and ecologist from India who founded a project for cleaning beaches, or a participant from Indonesia who came up with so-called garbage insurance for the poor (a system where people receive coupons for free health care for collecting trash).

Each day of the Festival will be dedicated to a certain region of the Earth: America, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania. Russia will observe its festival day on 21 October. Participants will hold discussions on the following prompts: Global Politics: How to Preserve Peace, Technologies of the Future, Ecology and Health, The Future of Science and Global Education, Economics for Future Development, Industries of the Future, and New Media.

The Festivals guests and speakers will include such world-famous figures as the motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, author Frédéric Beigbeder, and film director Claude Lelouch. The young audience will also hear from Russian government officials: ministers Lavrov, Oreshkin, Manturov, and Nikiforov.

The Festivals cultural program will be jam-packed. According to the Festivals creative producer, Ilya Bachurin, this massive endeavor involve the Igor Butman International Jazz Festival, a festival of national cultures, and a performance by the International Youth Symphonic Orchestra, the members of which will meet in person for the very first time in Sochi. Whats more, the Festivals participants will be able to learn about filmmaking at master classes, take part in performances in a theatrical venue, or participate in rap battles.

Environmental preservation is one of the Festivals main themes.

The participants will travel across the Olympic Park on smart bikes.

(Photo: The Festivals Facebook page)

There will also be sports: eighteen sports venues will available for the participants to show off their abilities. They can also play hockey in a special, open-invitation master class.

In addition to the 20 thousand participants, five thousand volunteers will also take part in the Festivals operations. They have been selected from 35 thousand applicants across 14 regions. In fact, there were 20 applicants for each volunteer position in Moscow, Tatarstan, and Krasnodar Krai. Interestingly, the oldest volunteer is 85 years old. Overall, seniors make up something like fifteen percent of the volunteers, and their ranks include participants of the 1957 and 1958 festivals, making this a real coming-together of generations. The volunteers also come from an unusual range of professions: they include surgeons, ballet masters, programmers, and dental technicians. They all underwent special training and are ready to assist the festivalgoers in every way.

There can be no doubt that the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students will be an exciting and memorable event. But according to Nikolas Papadimitriou, the main hopes for the event hang on whether these young people can form an image of the future in which ideas of peaceful coexistence, solidarity and social justice take precedence. We will learn the answer to this much later.

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