In November 2019, 25 delegates of the “New Generation” program from Europe and the CIS visited Moscow to participate in the “World War II: Truth for Peace” International Youth Conference. The event took place in the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (State Duma) and featured prominent Russian policymakers among its guests.
Young leaders of public organizations, politicians, historians, and journalists spent three days in the Russian State Duma discussing urgent issues related to World War II, including how to preserve historical memory, measures to counter the falsification of history, the questions of teaching war history in schools and universities as well as the need to improve citizens’ historical awareness in general.
The conference preceded the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II commemorated this year and back then no one could have imagined that the Covid-19 pandemic would limit international celebrations and travel. From today's perspective, the event in Moscow seems to be even more important offering the opportunity to meet in person at one place, get acquainted, exchange ideas and contacts.
One of the most active participants of the 2019 “World War II: Truth for Peace” conference, Hayastan Oganessyan from Armenia, works as an educational organizer at a secondary school and actively cooperates with the Russian Center for Science and Culture (RCSC) in the city of Gyumri. The sphere of education has been one of the first to be affected by the pandemic and Armenia was no exception, she says.
“At first, it seemed that distance learning would be an insurmountable obstacle for many teachers, but in reality it made us more knowledgeable, self-rigorous and enriched us with new research and computer skills,” Hayastan admits.
According to her, new skills helped her team to adequately celebrate the Victory Day in an unusual format. “Together with teachers and students, we took part in the International Educational Online Campaign ‘Test on the History of the Fatherland’ and released a video where teachers of our school told about their relatives who fought in the Great Patriotic War. It showed that every family in Armenia has a story to tell about the war and that the Armenian people did everything possible and impossible for our common Victory,” she explains.
“When I recall the November conference, I think about how dynamic and volatile our life is. Bernard Shaw once said: ‘If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.’ At the conference in Moscow, we exchanged dozens of new ideas with each other and I once again saw how important is history in people’s lives and how large was the price we paid for the long-awaited peace and Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” remembers the graduate of the “New Generation”.
“I have many positive emotions about the tour to the Kremlin Palace which breathes history and the Victory Museum, the exhibits and panoramas of which seemed so natural that we felt like we were in the epicenter of events. Emotions overwhelmed me when I presented my report in the State Duma,” she shares her impressions.
Hayastan thanked the organizers and volunteers of the program for their warm attitude which allowed each graduate to make the most of their trip to Russia. She hopes that the delegates of the program, new friends and colleagues, will meet again in Moscow.