Festival of Cultures, Songs and Communication

Presentations, workshops, campfire songs, acquaintances, smiles and hugs. Participants of the international festival of cultures, held October 19-21 in the youth center Ponemontsy of the YMCA Belarus, warmed the golden autumn days with the warmth of their hearts.

The festival brought together participants from Minsk, Brest, Bobruisk, Vitebsk and other cities of Belarus. Guests from Switzerland and residents of the village of Ponemontsy harmoniously joined the big noisy company. They learned a lot of new things about the cultural traditions of Belarus, Switzerland, Nepal and other countries.

Participants in a creative format told about the activities of the YMCA in their region. During the master classes, they learned how to make traditional Belarusian amulet dolls. They took a crack at straw braiding, t-shirts coloring and stage skills. They  also found time for gatherings around a campfire, songs with a guitar, games, and heart-to-heart conversations.

“Youth, friendship, openness – these three words very vividly describe what was happening these days in Ponemontsy,” Sergey Malko from YMCA Minsk shares his impressions. – Everyone was open to new ideas, suggestions, participated in all events. I haven’t seen a single person who would “hang out” with the phone and say that they were bored at the festival. I met a lot of friends, with some we haven’t seen for a long time. And it was very nice. Yes, and new acquaintances pleased: when they do something or tell, their eyes were sparkling. At such moments, you realize that differences in age are erased, and everyone is on the same wavelength.

Sergey Malko loves to travel, which includes mountain climbing. Following the results of trekking in Nepal, he shared his impressions and lifehacks with the participants of the festival.

“Nepal is a very bright and unusual country,” he said. – I talked about culture and religion, customs and lifestyle. About the beauty of nature and complexity. About how a person who lives at an altitude of 180 meters to rise to 5416 meters above sea level. We are not the first inhabitants of our country who visited that track, but, probably, the first ones who sang “Try Charapahi” at a height of 4.5 kilometers. Traveling expands the boundaries of perception of the world, allows you to take a different look at Belarusian culture and values.

“It’s hard for me to count how many songs we sang with the guitar,” says Tatiana Chaplya from YMCA Lida. “We were singing for at least three hours without stopping! Let my throat ached later, but I would give a lot to repeat such gatherings again!

According to Tanya, even a very modest knowledge of English did not become an obstacle to communication. It was very joyful to meet wonderful people. And the stories about Switzerland – like a balm for the soul!

I also remember the inspiring, friendly atmosphere, positive emotions and warmth. All this warms up to now.

– I was touched by the words of a local woman who came to visit the Ponemontsy youth center. She used to study at a school that operated in this building until 2002, ”said Tatyana. – That woman with tears in her eyes thanked for the fact that volunteers preserve and restore this big house. The development of the youth center gave the village a second wind. And the locals are very happy. The past festival of cultures, I think, was useful for everyone. For foreigners, this is an excellent opportunity to learn, and for Belarusians to show how rich our national culture is! And lively dances, melodious songs, and straw weaving – I would repeat it with great enthusiasm!

The performance of the group “Lity Taler” spiced up the festival. On the bank of the Neman River, against the background of the blue river waters and the gold of the autumn leaves, the musicians presented a bright concert. In their work harmoniously combines the traditions of European medieval and folk Belarusian culture. The repertoire includes medieval songs and dances performed on folk instruments, as well as their modern arrangements and author material of the corresponding style.

The concert turned out to be lively, interactive. Musicians not only presented the songs and pleased with the music, but also held a master class on teaching Belarusian folk dances. Not only the participants of the festival, but also the locals didn’t hold back.

Text and foto of Ruslan Ananyeu
Translation of Maryia Khvedantsevich  

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