19th World Festival of Youth and Students 2017:A Success Story in Soft Power
The festival from October 14th – 22th, 2017 in Sochi Olympic Park brought around 25,000 young people from 185 countries around the world. A total of 5,000 volunteers from Russia and 76 other countries helped to organize the biggest youth event of the year.
By Anastasia Yufereva
History of the Event
After the World War II, the World Youth Conference for Peace was held in London. It decided to create World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and launch festivals designed for young people and students.
The first world youth festival was organized in 1947 in the capital of Czechoslovakia and had a socialist and communist orientation. It was attended by 17,000 people from 71 countries. The second festival was held 18 times in different parts of the world – from Budapest (1949), Berlin (1951, 1973) to Cuba (1999), Ecuador (2013). Russia hosted the festival several times – in Moscow (1968, 1985) and in Sochi (2017).
Looking Forward to the Future
“19th World Festival of Youth and Students 2017” was held under the slogan: “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honouring our past, we build the future”. The festival was designed to work out the image of future and looking for an answer to the acutest challenges facing the representatives of the modern young generation.
The festival brought together 25,000 participants from 185 countries, including leaders of youth organizations, political parties, scientists, teachers, programmers, journalists, scholars, engineers, athletes, artists and many more.
Together with the whole Planet
The programs of the festival were designed in such a way that the participants could get training, discussions, roundtable, and workshops and spend time and exchange experiences and thoughts. For a week the participants attended lectures, seminars, participated in foresight sessions from leading experts in various fields, attended concerts of famous musicians, skated, watched the air show “Falcons of Russia” and got acquainted with the cultural diversity of Russia. “Young people managed to communicate with such famous people as talented speaker Nick Vuicic, French writer Frederik Begbeder, Russian politicians Sergei Lavrov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Marina Zakharova, famous actress Sergei Bondarchuk, Sergei Bezrukov, as well as scientists, athletes, and musicians”.
The festival included a rich entertainment and music program. Every hour on the main site of the festival – in the media center-delegations from different countries of the world held flash mobs and held national concerts: they sang songs and chanted dances. Every day, stars of rock, pop industry, and classical music filled out the main stage of the festival. In the local film studio, Western and Russian films were shown every day.
Participants Expressions and Opinions:
Anna Fedorova, Russia
It seems to me, the WFYS has solved the main tasks – to unite the youth of different countries and views. I have never seen the manifestations of some kind of nationalism, but there were plenty examples of warm, friendly and respectful communication at the festival. It would be excellent if such large-scale meetings of talented youth took place more often.
Valeria Kater, Republic of Moldova
There were many training grounds, you could hear lectures of politicians, bloggers, young entrepreneurs, economists and many other people reached the summits, sharing their experience to the young generation, a lot of entertainment grounds were met by the youth in Sochi; sports competitions, attractions, museums, intellectual games and so on. Many new acquaintances, many new friends – from Dagestan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Egypt, Armenia and many others regions of Russia! I was surprised that people are very kind, unusual, talented, positive, funny, different, but we all liked each other and were happy to be in our artificially organized society of interests. For me, this week is the most colorful and brightest the most fun and cognitive for a long period of time! As the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin has declared to participants of the festival: “I am sure that leaving Russia, you leave a piece of your heart here. But Russia will always remain in your heart. “This statement completely describes my feeling after the festival.
Robin Talbeau, United Kingdom
Primarily, the Festival brought together young people from all over the world to share their experiences and point of views, and thus contribute to a better world. Through mutual understanding and collaboration, in a time of increased international tensions and conflicts, especially between powers like Russia and the United States, maintaining peace and friendship is crucial. However, for me personally, it is not just an issue of peace and friendship, without the facts to back them up. The festival was also an opportunity to discuss with political allies all over the world how we can make concrete actions to support these aims. It is no secret that many of our countries have manipulative economic interests in other countries, as well as specific geopolitical interests. Sharing information about issues such as the situation in Syria for example, we can better understand how to respond to different countries’ involvement and what the people there really need, for a settlement that contributes to peace, stability and a better future for Syria – something most of us can agree with. At the Festival, meeting Syrians or meeting people from other countries in difficult situations, we are able to make this internationalist solidarity a reality and not just words.
Wiktor Sawicki, Poland
I was coming to the festival to see real Russia, real Russians, not like it is showing in west mass media. I wanted to meet a new people, from whole the world and especially from Russia and I do it. WFYS was a great success. The great success of Russia, of youth people and of socialist/communist movement. Young people from the whole world could meet, talked and exchanged their views each other. The whole world could see that Russians are not bloody demons and they don’t eat little child’s like some mass media want to show us in the West. Russians are one of the most hospitable, nice and lovely people which I ever meet.
Aazad Dhungana, Nepal
This festival helped me to enhance my academic knowledge, and share my experience with the other student from all around the world and got a chance to learn something from them. Similarly, it was really the great opportunities to understand the different people and their culture around the globe. At last this festival was really the great platform for me to make a network of the global students.
Ahmad Siahiran, Malaysia
My impression about the world festival of youth and students is so overwhelmed! I never expected to get a chance to be a part of WFYS’s family. The festival served every participant in the education, science, economy, politics, sports, technology, industry and even civil development. A lot of benefits and inputs that I got throughout the festival. Besides, the most important things are when I could meet a lot of new people with different background and education. I could connect with other people from another side of the world. And it’s very useful when you can speak and show to them about the culture and its people. Russia hosted the 19th festival of this year, I could interact, learn, and meet with Russian people, their language, foods, and culture. In a conclusion, I really enjoyed myself and this kind of international event really gives a lot of benefits to everybody. Thank you WFYS-17.
Eric Tweel, Canada
The festival was a positive experience for me. I think the socialist, anti-imperialist core of the festival was obstructed by government interference but it was possible to look past this problem and enjoy the opportunity to engage with like-minded activists and leaders from around the world. The facilities and services provided to attendees were great. It was also good to learn more about Russia and see through the propaganda that we are fed in the west. Overall I enjoyed the festival and will likely attend the next one.
Author Profile: She is Independent journalist and Assistant of the Department of Integrated of Marketing Communication and Branding, Ural Federal University named after the First President of Russia B.N. Yeltsin.
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