A Ukrainian Summer: where to go, what to do...

... and 10 years of independence

by Roman Woronowycz
Kyiv Press Bureau

KYIV - The Third World Forum of Ukrainians, scheduled for August 18-23 in Kyiv, will attempt to combine a serious review of where the Ukrainian world community stands today with a joyous celebration of 10 years of independent Ukraine. And, while the World Forum will last for less than a week, all the events that surround it in conjunction with independence celebrations will continue through much of August.

Although budgets have yet to receive final approval and plans for some events have not been completed, enough is currently known to state that the last full month of summer will be a great time for tourists in Ukraine and a wonderful chance to participate in an extensive and all-encompassing celebration of Ukrainian culture and history. It will include the merriment of carnivals, concerts and parades, as well as the seriousness of seminars, roundtables and government ceremonies.

A central theme of the World Forum will be youth as the future of Ukraine, and, not surprisingly, young people will not only have the first chance to get the nearly monthlong celebrations off to a grand start, but will find that many of the events have been developed specifically for them.

The first event of independence celebrations will be a festival of children's art and creativity titled "Our Land - Ukraine," to be held at the Artek Children's Center in Kyiv. It will include creative works submitted by Ukrainian children from all over the world and will last for the duration of the independence celebrations, August 7-27.

But the real youth kick-off is three days later in Brody, a town 60 miles northwest of Lviv, where a series of youth camps and an international athletic competition are planned for August 10-15. Organizers hope that the five-day event will be an opportunity for Ukrainian youth - from Kazakstan, to Argentina, Australia and Poland - to become better acquainted with one another, their dreams and their plans. At the conclusion of the camps everybody is expected to board overnight trains and head for Kyiv and the opening of the Fifth World Congress of Ukrainian Youth Organizations. This will be a more staid affair as it will involve taking some of those hopes and dreams and working to make them tangible and achievable.

As the Brody camp breaks up on August 15, another group of campers - from the Ukrainian Youth Association (SUM) - will descend on Lviv, where they will break up after two days and travel in separate groups to Zarvanytsia in the Ternopil Oblast and Staryi Uhryniv in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, before regrouping in the Hutsul town of Yaremche. They will then travel to Ivano-Frankivsk to board trains for Kaniv and Kyiv and 10th anniversary celebrations. SUM will also have a delegation at the youth congress.

After that congress ends, the Third World Forum of Ukrainians will officially open with a ceremony on August 18 to be attended by President Leonid Kuchma, the prime minister and the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, as well as delegates and guests. The three state officials and leaders of the Ukrainian world community will deliver addresses that will set the tone for the following days of seminars, conferences and roundtables.

The World Forum will accent five issues in its various events: youth, cultural problems, education, science, information are publishing, and economics.

Organizers of the World Forum are expecting some 600 delegates and about twice as many official guests. They are asking, however, that in a nod to the youth theme, individual country delegations ensure that half their representatives are young people.

The youth section of the World Forum will feature a series of roundtables and seminars to include topics such as: youth of the Ukrainian diaspora: the path and methods to unity and development; Ukrainian youth tourism; and a global educational outlook for the work of youth groups of the worldwide Ukrainian community.

On August 19 the Carnival of Independence will begin simultaneously in the 25 oblast centers of Ukraine, as well as Kyiv and Sevastopol.

For those who want to delve into the more serious aspects of Ukrainian self-identity, on August 18 there will be a presentation of the first tome of the book "Famous Ukrainian of Past Epochs."

Then, on August 20, there will be something more for the literati when the National Ukraina Palace will present an exhibition of books, magazines, philately and numismatics.

The same day another exhibition will highlight the accomplishments of Ukraine's developing light industry. World Forum organizers are hoping that a representative array of businesspeople and entrepreneurs from the Ukrainian diaspora will be in Kyiv in August to address questions of investment that delegates will consider as part of the economic section's work. This exhibition is tailored-made for that audience.

Tenth anniversary celebrations and commemorations should begin to approach a crescendo beginning on August 20, when the final concert of the music festival "Ukrainian Song Throughout the World" takes place at the Ukraina Palace. The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus, based in Detroit will represent the Ukrainian American community at this event.

On August 23 the entire Ukrainian state leadership will be on hand at the same Ukraina Palace, including President Kuchma and most of the Parliament, for a special ceremonial session of the Verkhovna Rada followed by the official 10th Anniversary Jubilee Concert. Tickets to this event, already among the most sought, are by special invitation only.

Finally, August 24 - Independence Day - which will be a raucous, noisy and explosive day. Literally. It will begin with a giant, full-scale military parade down the Khreschatyk, Kyiv's main thoroughfare. Planned are not only soldiers of every type, stripe and character, but the full array of armored vehicles and artillery, as well as what is sure to be a colorful air show.

During the day Kyivans and guests will be able to take in concerts and smaller festivals scattered throughout the city. At night the spotlight will once again be on the Khreschatyk, where a fireworks spectacle will show the world that Ukraine can compete with the likes of New York, London or Tokyo, at least on this level. Afterwards, a rock and pop concert will keep the city center rocking until well into the night.

Organizers of the 10th anniversary events included one event for the day after The Day, to help revelers avoid that day-after letdown. The Fifth International Festival of Kozak Traditional and Martial Arts will be held at Olympic Stadium, home of Kyiv Dynamo. The festival will exhibit the equestrian artistry and fighting skills of the renowned Ukrainian warriors of the 16th to 18th centuries.

What could become one of the most interesting aspects of the 10th anniversary commemorations will also be one of the few events that does not occur in Kyiv.

The organizers of the World Forum hope to gather groups from the diaspora to travel to various oblast centers for two days to deepen contacts between the regions of Ukraine and the diaspora. The hope is that in oblast centers such as Donetsk, Luhansk, Vinnytsia or Rivne, World Forum guests and delegates will meet with local leaders and become acquainted with the area, which could eventually lead to either business or purely humanitarian contacts.

One of the co-organizers is an association of "zemliatstva," societies of people born in a particular region, which is hoping to hold a large convention in Kyiv during the World Forum days. One of their goals is to interest visitors from the diaspora in traveling to their native regions to strike up or renew relationships and ties. For most tourists in Ukraine it will be yer another chance to get to know Ukraine better.

After all, that is what the August celebrations will be all about.

A Ukrainian Summer (main page)

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, May 6, 2001, No. 18, Vol. LXIX

| Home Page |