‘Live History of Generations’ – a new project of ‘Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past’ in Crimea
Since April 2013 Foundations for Freedom in partnership with the Center for Regional Development Top-Kaya, Club for Young Leaders and the Ethnographic Museum of Crimea has created a new project Ukrainian Action: Live History of Generations in Crimea. What is the difference between this project and the previous one (Healing the Past), who is it aimed at, and what are the final results? We talk in the interview with the organizers.
Think globally - act locally
First of all it is worth mentioning that Live History of Generations is part of a wider program Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past. Under this program in 2010-2011 a similar project was carried out to collect the memories of Ukrainians on historical events. This resulted in the publication of the book of life stories, ‘Letting Go’. During the previous project the volunteers were travelling around the whole country talking with people. This time the organizers decided to create a local project focused on one region. A pilot region for such a project was chosen; it became the Crimea.
An important aspect of Live History of Generations project is the partnership with the Crimean Ethnographic Museum. The specialists from the museum helped the project participants to compose a list of the interviewees, whose stories would be interesting for all the Crimeans.
Evheniya Baranova, Head of the Department of Methodological and Cultural Work of the Crimean Ethnographic Museum, says:
Since ancient times the peninsula has been multi-ethnic. The exhibition of the museum features more than twenty people, and we hope to expand our base with the help of the project.
According to Evheniya Baranova, the material collected by volunteers will help to revive the exposition. On the basis of the collected material a multimedia exhibition giving the stories of the residents of the autonomous region, will be created and installed at the end of the summer for visitors to the Crimean Ethnographic Museum.
Whereas the previous project resulted in a printed book, this time the memories will be stored electronically.
Ways to reconciliation
Regarding the aims of the project, the organizers underline that the life stories of the witnesses to the historic events reveal the inner relationships in the community, show how they value them and their attitude regarding the past, and portray in a visual way the participants of particular historical events.
Oleksa Stasevych, Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past programme manager, says:
With the help of this project we aim to strengthen the respect towards historical memory, values systems, traditions and the faiths of ethnic cultures of Crimea. This will be done by building partnership among local communities and museum complexes in order to research and study the non-material objects of the heritage, in searching for ways of reconciliation and healing the past.
During the summer field research is taking place in the autonomous region of Crimea, where the participants are collecting the oral memory of the local residents. The volunteers are getting to understand the life of the various national and ethnic Crimean groups.
At present 10 stories have already been recorded and all in all the Crimean volunteers will collect about 40 oral statements in 10 places of the peninsular.
According to Iryna Tkachenko, the Coordinator of the Project Live History of Generations in Crimea, each story is a unique one:
One of the main eye-openers of the project for me was that people share their personal and private experiences in such an easy way, though sometimes they talk with tears in their eyes.
However, for the elderly people it is the only possibility they have had to share, to tell somebody about the events of the past. According to Iryna, one of the most remarkable stories for her was a story of an Estonian woman, Mary Nikolska, who was a Lutheran by birth and became an Orthodox Christian.
A special event, says Iryna, was a trip to the Bilohors'kyi rayon, where the volunteers visited the estate of Thracian Greeks and met with the chairman of the Greek community of Chornopillia, Iryna Zekova, who spoke about the tragic fate of Crimean Greeks who underwent deportation.
Dialogue for the Participants
There are in total seven volunteers involved in the project. According to the organizers, the main criterion in the selection of candidates was their desire to get deeply into the subject, and the ability to communicate with people and ask questions.
Oleksa Stasevych says:
It should be understood that our volunteers should interact with the elderly people who have gone through a lot of things, thus they and their stories need to be treated carefully, not hurting the feelings of the narrators. They should be able to listen, record and try to live out what was heard. You cannot tell a person about your problems, you will have to help him or her to open up.
When the meetings with the interviewees are finished, the participants of the project will have a possibility to share their impressions and tell each other how these stories influenced them personally. Based on the audio and video recordings collected by the volunteers, a film will be created, which will be located at the local media resource center and on the project site.
Based on the audio and video recordings collected by the volunteers, a film will be created, which will be located at the local media resource center and on the project site.
In the early autumn, for the participants of the project, we want to hold a dialogue on seeking reconciliation where everyone will be able to share lessons learned.
Svitlana Fedoronchuk, a project volunteer:
I presented at two meetings – with an artist Ali Bekirov and the head of the Museum of Crimeans, Nina Bakshy, who has worked at the museum more than 66 years! Both of the meetings were easygoing. Ali Bekirov asked not to ask him questions and talked with hardly any breaks. Nina Yuriyivna asked us to help her by asking leading questions. I concluded that one should go to an interview in a good mood and desire to get to know something new, but be very carefully prepared., Then you will do it.
More information about the project is on the project’s page on Facebook: Crimea. Live History of Generations
Evheniya Koroliova, Simferopol, Ukraine
The project Ukrainian Action: Live History of Generations is started by the International Non-Governmental Organization Foundations for Freedom, in partnership with the Crimean Ethnographic Museum in the framework of the Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past Program, project “New Breath of Culture: Heritage, Filled with Life” under the financial support of the European Union.
Photo: Volodymyr Fomichov