The Words of the Ilyin Family

Promoting a Rapprochement of Cultures in Ukraine

Mikhail Ilyin
November 21, 2013

Volunteers from Japan and South Korea visited Ukraine in November 2013 at the invitation of the Universal Peace Federation. The purpose of the delegation's stay in Ukraine was to take part in international volunteer activities, initiate charitable projects and meet volunteers in various cities of Ukraine. With the opening of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022) established by the UN General Assembly, the visit was also an opportunity to build bridges of friendship with students in many universities and participate in cultural events.


On Nov. 12-14, the city of Zhytomyr hosted a number of projects and activities, includinga round table on joint volunteer activities in Zhytomyr, which took place at the Press center of the Zhytomyr City Council on Nov. 12.

The deputy mayor Zhytomyr, Alexander Bochkovsky, sincerely welcomed the foreign guests, noting that the overall volunteer experience is extremely useful for both sides, because it enables people to learn from each other and find new methods to counter negative phenomena that impact the community.

"Our volunteers support the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe and are helping hospitals in the Ukraine," said Nabuco Omori, head of the visiting volunteers. "I came to Kyiv many times and I like your culture. So I think we could exchange experiences not only in volunteerism but also in culture."

After the roundtable, the Japanese volunteers visited the Zhitomir higher boarding school. Teachers and students warmly welcomed the guests and expressed their sincere appreciation. They enthusiastically watched smooth and harmonious movements of Japanese girls as they performed a traditional Japanese dance for their new friends from Ukraine.

The next day, together with representatives of the Zhytomyr City Center of Social Services for Families, Children and Youth, the volunteers visited the Zhytomyr State University named after Ivan Franko, where the volunteers and university students shared their experience. The event was attended by students of the Social Psychology Department, lecturers and professors, heads of the university projects and centers, as well as the Students' Social Services.

At the meeting, the foreign guests were told about the social projects in which university volunteers assist children and youth with limited faculties. Olga Demyanchuk, a teacher, described her experience working with the public organization Children of the Sun. Natalya Tarasenko, head of the Students' Social Service, talked about of the department programs. During the meeting the university student volunteers also reported about the impact that participating in various volunteer projects has had on them.

"Such events are extremely significant because they involve constructive dialogue between volunteers from different countries and continents," said the rector of Ivan Franko University, Petr Saukh. "Young people exchange their experience, ideas and proposals for improving the work of volunteer organizations. We hope that events like these will become a good tradition."

On the same day, after lunch, volunteers from Japan and South Korea accompanied citizens of Zhytomyr to school? 2 for children with hearing impairments. They conducted a lesson in origami for the children, and in response the children created colorful posters with words of appreciation and bright patterns. The Japanese volunteers were moved to tears by the sincerity and kindness of the children.

On the last day in Zhytomyr, the delegation of volunteers toured local historical sites. They were especially impressed by the Museum of Cosmonautics named after S. P. Korolev. During the tour, Nabuco Omori admired the coat of arms of Zhitomir. "I really like this. It looks as if the three towers are made into one symbolizing friendship and unity," she commented.

The director of the Zhytomyr City?enter of Social Service for Families, Children and Youth, Olga Yurchenko, expressed her sincere gratitude to the guests and presented to each of them a certificate of apprecition for their support of the international volunteer movement.


On Nov. 18, the international volunteers visited the Kiev Law University of the National Academy of Science of the Ukraine. The visit took place within the framework of a memorandum of cooperation signed by the Kiev Law University and the Universal Peace Federation.

While at the university, the international guests and the head of UPF-Ukraine, Mikhail Ilyin, met the rector of the Kyiv Law University, Yuri Boshitsky. After discussing prospects for future cooperation, including joint cultural events, each side exchanged gifts.

The guests of honor took part a celebration with first-year student that included dancing and vocal performances. The song, performed by the guests in Japanese wearing national attire, caused a storm of applause on the part of the audience. In turn, the members of the delegation were pleasantly surprised by performance of the university students. Finally, the university volunteers handed to the volunteers from Japan and Korea yellow volunteer scarves in memory of the meeting and their friendship.


On Nov.19-21, the international volunteers visited the city of Rovno for a joint volunteer program with the Rovno Institute, a branch of the Kiev University of Law. For several years the university has participated in joint projects. In recognition of his leadership and progressive views, the rector was appointed an Ambassador for Peace.

During the meeting at the Rovno Institute, each volunteer talked about his or her life experiences, what they like to do, and their plans for the future. A guest from Japan, Tsuchida Tasu, said that the maim motto of volunteers should be serving with sincere heart. She presented a video about her native city, which was damaged by earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Working together with international volunteers at that time inspired her to continue with such activity.

One of the brightest moments of the meeting was signing a Certificate on Friendship between the students and professors of the Rovno Institute and representatives of the Universal Peace Federation. The participants also discussed a proposal to introduce the study of Oriental languages into the curriculum.

The international guests impressed the hosts by their captivating artistic performance; students and teachers sang and danced together with their new friends.

The volunteers were agreeably surprised by the exhibit at the university library about the history and culture of their home countries. The guests were particularly interested in the display of Japanese prints from the 18th and 19th centuries and a set of Japanese writings archived in the library.

On the last day the delegation of volunteers visited the Rovno Regional Museum and the Cultural and the Peresopnytsa Archeological Center. 

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