Yokohama YMCA held its 4th Youth Conference

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Last Updated (Monday, 01 August 2022 12:44)

We, the Yokohama YMCA youth community, held the 4th youth conference on July 2nd, 2022. The theme was "Let's learn about Ukraine". We planned this program because we saw some news related to the war in Ukraine every day on TV and in newspapers. However, we rarely have a chance to learn about what kind of people live there and what kind of culture they have. This program was prepared by the youths. The participants were teens and youth in their late 20s. We have been conducting this kind of youth program for 2 years dealing with social issues.

On July 2nd, we gathered both online and in person. The number of participants was 46, including staff members and volunteers. All the participants who came to the YMCA pinned a small artificial sunflower on their chest because it is the national flower of Ukraine. This program aimed to share the opportunity to learn about Ukraine and help participants feel closer to Ukraine.

We started this program with a prayer for Ukraine and the people currently struggling in the war. The guest speaker was a university student from Ukraine presently studying Japanese at the Yokohama YMCA. Her speech taught us about Ukrainian culture, history, and daily life. The guest speaker made her speech in English, and we put Japanese subtitles on her slides so that people unfamiliar with English could understand it. In her speech, she told us about Ukraine in detail. For example, the traditional clothes called "Vishivanka" and the meaning of their beautiful patterns, some famous cities such as Kyiv, Dnipro, and Lviv, and their beautiful natural environment and architecture. From this, we learned that Ukraine has a long history and was influenced mainly by Poland and Russia. She told us about school life in Ukraine, and the thing that surprised us was that they are studying very hard and almost all the people can understand both Ukrainian and Russian.

After the speech, we got information about the YMCA's current aid for Ukraine and shared some time with the participants. During the sharing time with the participants, we discussed how we felt and what we could do for Ukraine. We could hear different opinions from each one of the participants because the sharing groups were a mixture of junior and high school students, university students, and young business people. From the participants, we heard some comments, such as, "I learned that Ukraine is one beautiful country that has its own culture, and we have to protect it." "I learned that it is important to understand the cultural aspects of a situation and the people might be interested in it, and this could be a great starting point to support something. " We hope that young people will become interested in Ukraine through this program and learn more by themselves. We would also like them to spread some ideas and activities in their schools, workplaces, and communities.

The Yokohama YMCA is now helping people who came from Ukraine. To help them get used to and live independently in Japan. We support their communities, employment, and enrollment in schools. For Japanese people, we had a charity concert by a Ukrainian musician and conducted workshops in which we made traditional Ukrainian dolls. We must learn and respect each other's culture and become good friends. Hopefully, it will be the key to world peace.

By Mizuki Sakachi
A staff member of Yokohama YMCA Youth Community