Hi all,

Hope you are well!

Time flies, now it is more than a week since the Youth UNiTE- campaign finished and I am happy to say that it went very well! Both people that we knew from before as well as new acquaintances showed up (and I think that even more interested would have showed up had we not shared event days with other happenings such as “Volunteer Day” (a day when students are helping in the society with e.g. stopping cars and helping young and old crossing the street) and even though I do not know Russian, everyone who came seemed to think that is was a good mixture of subjects and many came back for all days. Most of the participants were students, but we had also school pupils and somewhat older participants, which I believe add to the discussions.

The two first days we were at our house and we were happy to be in a warm place, since it was quite cold and actually snowed. At first we had plans to be in our old house since it is bigger, but reasons such as the problems to heat it up, to bring all the things there and the possible electricity cuts, and more, brought us to have it at our current place- which was also good since people then get to know about it and can join in on other activities!

The first day had a good start with a talk from UN Women about violence on women both from an international and national perspective, and after this we had two workshops where the participants made collages that told their perceptions on the issues of gender and how women/men should be.

On the Saturday we were at the American Corner at the Library, since it is bigger. What is American Corner? To cite their FB-page: provide “a small oasis of English-language culture in our library. Here you can find books, periodicals, films, and also interesting events”, and it is financed by the US. I have English Talking club there every second Thursday (not as a part of the EVS) and it is nice to be able to cooperate on issues like this. So on the Saturday we had self-defence for girls in the morning, and the boys got a workshop where they discussed manliness. I was mostly watching the self-defence and understood that it was very appreciated, and there were many laughs when the girls practised different threatening situations that one might get into (even though the number one rule is  to avoid those situations- be careful, pay attention and listen to your guts). I think that even though it might feel a bit strange to practice with your friends and you might feel a bit silly, something will actually stuck and you will remember it if you need it. Later during the day was a talk on the subject of women and work, and the day ended with two guests from Bishkek who had inspirational talks on what young people can do and what stereotypes we have. I really hope that something from those talks got stuck with our participants as well, and that they will continue to think about it and maybe, if they are not satisfied with the way things are, change what they can.

The campaign should have ended with a party but the fact was that everyone was quite tired so it was a little bit less “party” and more “cosy” – but having nice people at our house, eating samsas (typical Kirgiz food, shortly said meat baked in bread) and watching short movies that Temir from Bishkek had made was no bad ending at all. 🙂

And now we are heading towards Christmas and New Year in a quite scary speed. On Sunday we leave Kyrgyzstan for about a month vacation. It will probably include some work- and I will defiantly have to get my Russian studies back on track –  but mostly time with family and friends, which I can confess that I long to, even though Kyrgyzstan have plenty of wonderful people who I will love to see again in January!

For all readers of this blogg, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

/Jessica

You who have read earlier blogg posts know that I am  quite bad with uploading photos, but here are at least three photos from the campaign: Top left: Dildora from UN Women speaks on the first day, Top right: The big opening (in Osh) of the national UNiTE campaign opening in Aravanski in central Osh- the weather was quite bad but some brave people showed up! And down: Our house! It looks a bit gray- for the campaign it had nice colourful balloons and orange bands on the fence, but by the time I actually took the photo our neighbouring children had had their fun with the balloons and they were no longer.

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