Brennpunkt

Study visit to Ukraine

Anya Haidai, Project Manager Movetia Ukraine

In January 2019, the Chernihiv National University of Technology (Ukraine) welcomed professors and students of the FHS St. Gallen (Switzerland) and Sukhoi State Technical University of Gomel (Belarus). This visit was carried out within the Movetia Project “Social work as a ‘seismograph’ for social change and social needs” and became a starting point in the process of joint comparative student researches on the current issues of social work and social transformations in the three countries.

The Colleagues from Belarus handed out the guest presents.

The expectations for the visit were high, as it was the first time all three parties were gathered together and we clearly understood that it had to be not just exchanging opinions, but also coming to some common points and an agreement on the year’s work ahead. On the one hand, there have been a positive experience of cooperation with both educational institutions, on the other hand – it was the first experience of bringing them together in a three-party process, both teaching staff and students, from different backgrounds, with different academic traditions and worldviews. So, there were challenges we considered, but also great expectations regarding the possible results of the meeting that we had, because those challenges were at the same time the opportunities for making the visit outstanding and extremely fruitful. Now, as the study visit is already in the past we may firmly state that it has been a great success.

Several questions turned out to be in the focus of our attention:

  • How people construct their identity in the transforming society? Are their differences in the national identities of young people in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus?
  • What are the problems of youth and how Youth work in Ukraine and Switzerland look like
  • Working poor or simply working? Different perceptions of job, poverty, needs and their intersections in Western and Eastern European worlds.
  • What are the ways to re-integrate combatants to the communities and help their families in the Ukrainian realities?
  • Finally, what is the role of the state in overcoming main social, economic, political and cultural challenges in the postmodern society? And how Social Work finds solutions and changes in the face of new needs, issues and fluctuations which arise?

The three days became a platform for an intercultural dialogue on the modern trends in the social development of our countries and challenges of social work, they brought us some more understanding regarding both: our expected differences and, what is more important, unexpected similarities. Of course, this short period was not enough to get a clear understanding of the present situation in our societies, but we managed to outline the spheres of common interest that could be studied and compared from the three sides and formed research groups on each of them. This event turned out to be also empowering for students, especially Ukrainian and Belarus ones. In their feedback to us they said that it had been really meaningful for them to dive into that multinational zone, to feel that they could freely exchange their opinions overcoming the language barrier, speak on the topics in their sphere of interests and meet likeminded people from a different part of the world. With this valuable impression we are looking forward to a 10day Movetia Conference & Summer School in July 2019 at the FHS – St. Gallen / Switzerland, where we will take part with a 26person group of students, teachers and practitioners from Chernihiv / Ukraine and Gomel / Belarus.

FURTHER ARTICLES

«first days and impressions»

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