The integration event within the project “STRONG TOGETHER. СИЛЬНІ РАЗОМ” has taken place
On October 21 and 22, 2023, the integration event of the project “STRONG TOGETHER. СИЛЬНІ РАЗОМ”, ID No. 2023.LV/UKR_KO/06, within the framework of the Latvian state budget-funded programme “Cultural Orientation Courses and Inclusion Events for Ukrainian Civilians” was organized by Daugavpils University Association for Lifelong Learning, Culture, and Science Communication “Intellect Park”. Ukrainian civilians, learning the Latvian language, familiarizing themselves with Latvian cultural and societal processes, and aiming to integrate into Latvian society, were invited to participate. During these two days, Ukrainian civilians and Latvian citizens, representing the host community, collaborated in informal activities, networked, and went on excursions, exploring examples of successful small businesses in Latgale and gaining inspiration for starting their own small businesses.
On the first day of the integration event, the project participants headed to the recreation complex “Lejasmalas” in Auleja parish of Krāslava district. There, a discussion on intercultural communication and regional specificity in Latvia and Ukraine took place. The participants shared their experiences, discussed future perspectives, and outlined goals in the context of Latvia-Ukraine collaboration. The discussion was chaired by the representative of the host community, Inese Valtere, and Ukrainian civilian Anastasiia Lovina. All attendees actively engaged in the discussion, gaining insights into the current issues of intercultural communication. Additionally, the participants took part in a training session on building inclusive societies and cultural competence. The session aimed to address various stereotypes about foreigners present in Latvian society.
After the discussion, Ukrainian civilians participated in the “Story Night” activities within various interest groups. They listened to stories from fishermen, hunters, mushroom and berry pickers, as well as captivating travel tales. The participants engaged in culinary stories from Latvian cuisine and heard stories from influencers and bloggers. All participants took part in workshops where, under the guidance of instructors, they learned the art of making bracelets with Latvian ethnographic symbols. In the soap-making workshop, various Latvian medicinal and decorative plants were introduced, the Ukrainian civilians learnt their names and uses. Both adults and children actively participated in traditional Latvian games and activities, simultaneously learning Latvian folk-dance moves. During these workshops, the excursion participants strengthened their knowledge of the Latvian language, familiarized themselves with Latvian national values and traditions, and established the foundations for collaboration with representatives of the host community.
The second day began with information about the opportunities for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the legislation regulating NGO activities, and sources of funding. After the informative part of the day, the participants went on an excursion to the organic farm “Juri”, where they had the opportunity to learn about cheese-making traditions, taste fresh milk, taste various types of handmade cheese, and learn ways to establish their own organic farm to ensure that farming results also yield profits.
The project participants visited Preiļi, where they explored the art gallery “Nester Custom”. Its founders are the Preiļi family Aleksandrs and Alīna Nesteruk, who have developed an original business idea by restoring motorcycle equipment and transforming non-liquid spare parts into works of art. The next stop was the “Doll Kingdom”, where the participants discovered a doll collection created over several years by artist Jeļena Mihailova, also known as Vladlena. The museum is renowned not only in Latvia but also internationally, which provided the Ukrainian civilians with valuable insights on how to internationalize their businesses. Everyone had the opportunity to dress up in retro clothing, explore the exhibits, and understand the basic principles of the creative industry in Latvia.
Later, the project participants visited the Latgalian ceramist Polikarps Čerņavskis’ Museum of Ceramics. Guided by ceramist Raivo Andersons, the Ukrainian civilians learned about the cultural and historical heritage of Latgale, exploring ceramics products, the process of their creation, and the techniques involved.
On the way back, the participants visited Aglona Bread Museum. During culinary workshops, they were introduced to an ethnographic narrative about the history of rye bread. The hostess of the Bread Museum, Vija Kudiņa, shared insights into the bread-baking process, beliefs, proverbs, customs, and steps involved in bread-making. The participants learned about the culinary heritage of Latgale, traditions of bread baking, and associated beliefs. They also acquired new Latgalian vocabulary. Each participant had the opportunity to create their own loaf of bread. During lunch, the participants enjoyed dishes from the gastronomic heritage of Latgale, accompanied by traditional Latgalian music.
Overall, 40 Ukrainian civilians, 10 representatives of the hosting community, and 6 educators participated in the integration event. During these two days, the project participants explored Latvia and Latgale’s cultural and historical heritage, enhanced their knowledge of the Latvian language, and developed awareness of the structure, processes, and communication models in the Latvian society. Participation in integration events provided an excellent opportunity to promote the integration of Ukrainian civilians into Latvian society, familiarize them with Latvian traditional values, and gain insights into small business experiences.
The project is financially supported by the Society Integration Foundation from the allocated funds of the Latvian state budget.
The content of the project activities is overseen by Daugavpils University Association for Lifelong Learning, Culture, and Science Communication “Intellect Park”.