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OUR SUMMER ON THE RIVER: Dniester-2013 Eco-TIRAS Youth Summer School, River Festival and 3 Kayaks’ Expeditions.

  OUR SUMMER ON THE RIVER: Dniester-2013 Eco-TIRAS Youth Summer School, River Festival and 3 Kayaks’ Expeditions

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It has become a good tradition starting from 2007 – to organize every year the Eco-TIRAS Dniester Youth Summer School , which unites youth of ages 16 -22 from both banks of the Dniester River, to promote the river and other environmental democracy values among the youngsters. 

 

The Youth Summer School (YSS) “Dniester - 2013” took place from the 4th to the 13th of July on the pictorial place of the Dniester bank in the District of Dubasari, village of Molovata Noua. The YSS included 35 youngsters from Moldova and 35 from Transnistria who came not sporadically, but through an organized selection.

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The selection was organized by the NGOs of the Dniester River basin by principles of activeness in environmental protection, active position, willingness to find new friends and to be closer to people from the other bank. We also welcomed creative and sportive skills, which was demonstrated by different certificates and awards they presented us from other recognized programs. There were many of those who wanted to participate in the YSS, but it was necessary our selection process was more thorough than previous years to demonstrate pawn capacities. 

The objective of the Eco-TIRAS summer school was to bring youth closer together from both Dniester banks to overcome stereotypes in inter-relations, educate responsibility towards the environment and promote unity of people with different ethnicity, race and language.

Our trainers who worked with children, also represented two banks. They are NGO leaders, teachers and scientists – a team of well-educated creative people.

The YSS Agenda included several components:

$·         Educational

$·         Sportive

$·         Discovery (excursions)

$·         Creative  –  revelation and development of creative features

$·         Intellectual  brain rings, competitions, public participation game

At the lectures and practical trainings with the youth, we had invited experts such as scientists, ecologists, botanists, zoologists, historians, geographers, climatologists from Chisinau and Tiraspol. This year some specialists, who worked also in our previous summer school, expressed the willingness to work with youth the whole period – 10 days – as trainers. There were many positive moments everyday due to interrelations among highly experienced professionals improving the youth and the option of informal consultations became more possible. It is necessary to note that the experts’ participation in this expedition was not only a will by organizers, but as scientists themselves. The lectures were so interesting, that even after the year of lessons and exams in school the youth were voluntarily involved in the trainings with great enthusiasm.

The youngsters not only listened, but worked actively. They were trained on how to adopt decisions, organize public hearings and press-conferences on actual river basin issues, as well as discussions on interethnic relations in the society.

Environmental Law and Public Participation issues were a part of the YSS. The case of investment initiative to construct the petrol station in forestry protected area belonging to the village was selected as a model for complete public participation process. Youngsters played different roles: of investor – business, of local authorities, of general public heading by local NGO and mass media. This legal and public participation YSS compartment was supported by the US Embassy in Moldova, when YSS in a whole as well as Festival and expeditions – by OSCE Mission to Moldova and Finnish Embassy in Bucharest which covers also Moldova.  

The discussion on inter-ethnic tolerance, racism and nationalism in modern society, took a full day at the school. Two experts led the discussion – scientist from Warsaw University, prof. Rafal Pankowski, and Mr. Keita Abdrahmane, PhD, the leader of the African community in Moldova. Taking into account the popularity of football among youth, a football match was successfully organized at the Dubasari City stadium (Transnistria). City authorities welcomed and supported this match between teams of the Dniester expedition (“Ewo”) and of the Summer School (“Tiras”) under the slogan “Football against Racism.” Local businessman and the director of “Agrotiras” enterprise also supported this match and river festival in Molovata Noua.

The excursions were organized in pictorial sites of the region, both Moldova and Transnistria. The locations included Saharna Monastery, Yagorlik Nature Reserve and the Dubosari Hydro Power Station. Participants visited Bendery Fortress, one of biggest stadiums of Europe Sheriff (Tiraspol), as well as visiting the “Free Choice” TV station (Tiraspol). At the TV station, youth became  familiarized with their work and asked enormous number of questions. The scope of the visit helped to avoid common mistakes of false images of people from the other side. Especially those from rural areas in Moldova who never visited Transnistria before. The same could be said about children from the left bank, whose views about Moldova were formed by mass media.

On July 13 the participants of the expedition came to the Village of Molovata Noua, where a big round table was organized regarding Dniester issues. The participants described their impressions about the expedition, the current river status and shared views on how to change and improve the situation. This exchange of views session took place after an excursion along the Dniester by ship, organized by the resort headquarters. The youth were troubled by the very shallow Dniester River, unauthorized waste storages along the beaches, the cutting of trees and forests, in-stream mining in the river, etc.  A lot of time was also given to intellectual and sportive games.

On July 13 the summer school farewell party was organized, where participants demonstrated and prepared in advance cultural events (dances, theater arrangements, songs). Special prizes were awarded. On July 14th the youth met guests from Chisinau, Tiraspol, Bender and Cioburci who came to the river festival. Here the YSS participants’ were awarded certificates for attending the expedition. Certificates included logos of the donors and their supported activities during summer of 2013. The students also signed a letter of acknowledgement to the donors. After that, a meal was organized and then the youth went home by rented microbuses.

Expeditions by kayaks along the Dniester River.

The scope of three expeditions organized in June, July and August was to familiarize the participants with the environmental status of the river, the history and a culture of land along the river, overcoming stereotypes and trust building. 

The first expedition was supported by the Finnish Embassy in Bucharest and the second and third by the OSCE Mission to Moldova.

The first expedition (June 23-29) was organized for the secondary school teachers from MD and TR. This group of 22 teachers has an important impact on youth and parents. In our view, it was important to provide the school teachers with the option to work together and to build trust, but also familiarize them with natural and historical values of the country. The 22 teachers and NGO representatives participated in the expedition on the Stroentsy  – Dubasari river sector.  All three expeditions were managed by Nicolai Vizitiu and included several experts, usually PhDs in a corresponding field, who delivered to participants their knowledge in geography, geology, biology, hydrology, hydrobiology and history.

The second expedition (July 7-14) took place in time of the Youth Summer School. University students from MD and TR took part in it totaling 35 people. The expedition’s (Stroentsy – Molovata Noua) scope was to familiarize the university students about the Dniester River problems, the impact on the river and its consequences, as well as flora, fauna, geology and history of the target territory as well as to break down negative barriers among Moldovans and Transnistrians. The expedition also reached the YSS about expedition outcomes and human impacts on the river.

The third expedition was organized from the 5th to 12th of August. Up to 25 university lecturers and academic researchers from both sides of the river, including the leadership of two natural sciences faculty deans took part in it. The sector covered the lower Dniester from the city of Tiraspol to the village of Rascaeti, which is close to the south border with Ukraine. The Deans and Vice-Deans of Tiraspol and Chisinau universities took part in the expedition as well as leading researchers of the Moldovan Academy of Sciences and Tiraspol University. This expedition supported closer cooperation of scientists from both sides. It had appeared the idea to invite scientists from Odessa to the next expedition in 2014 to raise the academic community impact on inter-governmental transboundary cooperation.

All three expeditions were characterized with the friendly and supportive relations of people from both banks without conflicts or acute political disputes among them. All participants received the Certificate of Participation and shirts with the donors’ logos. Participants signed the letters of acknowledgement to the donors and supporters.

Main donors supported summer events, are:

·         Finnish Embassy in Bucharest

·         OSCE Mission to Moldova

·         National Endowment for Democracy

·         American Embassy in Moldova

·         SECTOR Project of REC CEE (Swedish Government)

·         “Never Again” and FARE

Reflection in mass media:

Expeditions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THMwFRWd1QY

Public hearings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irvzEdgJ6BM

Anti-Racist football match :

http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/news/international-news/against-xenophobia-on-the-banks-of-the-dniester

http://www.sportanddev.org/?5870/Against-xenophobia-in-Moldovia

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.403193253135609.1073741881.145959122192358&type=3

http://www.nigdywiecej.org/1210