In the summer of 2023, the Ukrainian Vibes team embarked on a tour through the German Bundesland Saxony with the Europe Dome, sparking discussions about the future of Europe. The mission of the tour: To give everyone a chance to actively participate, share ideas, and understand how they can shape the future of the European Union. This tour included stops in Leipzig, Görlitz, and two events in Chemnitz, served as a platform for dialogue on important topics such as European values, European identity, and the integration of Ukraine into the EU.
But why Saxony? The overarching topic of our tour was structural change – a process that Ukraine and Saxony have in common. Especially in polarised regions it is important to involve people, fight disinformation regarding Ukraine and the war and discuss the future of the EU. By setting up shop in these four locations, the tour showed that even when people have different opinions, it is still possible to sit down together and have a talk. Especially in regions where people sometimes feel divided, so the tour aimed to show that coming together can create joint solutions.
The primary focus of the tour was to discuss European identity and values. Participants were invited to engage in discussions, which were designed to mobilise for the upcoming 2024 elections, where every voice will contribute to shaping the future of the EU. By involving young people in discussions about their concerns, ideas and long-term aspirations, the Ukrainian Vibes tour sought to bridge the gap between citizens and the European political landscape, as well as empowering youth to recognise their influence on European matters – something which also Ukraine will hopefully be able to do soon.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian Vibes tour aimed to equip participants with an understanding of the EU and its functions. This involved educating participants about the origins of European values, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, as well as the roles and limitations of various EU bodies.
This emphasis on European identity and values of course didn’t end at the borders of the EU. Ukraine, its traditions and values, the full-scale invasion and Ukraine’s future in the EU played a major role in every discussion. The topics created a cultural exchange, an exchange of perspectives and experiences, which provided an opportunity to discuss cultural and political disparities between the EU and Ukraine, envisioning a common future, and exploring opportunities for Ukraine’s integration into the EU. Through these discussions, the Ukrainian Vibes tour not only facilitated cultural exchange but also highlighted the significance of mutual understanding and collaboration between nations.
An especially insightful event was at the intercultural children’s camp in Chemnitz. This event placed a spotlight on Ukraine, with an opportunity for local children and youth to engage directly with Ukrainian team members from the project. The reason for that: Many children had heard about the war, but had never interacted with Ukrainians, so this was the first time they could actually engage directly with Ukrainians. The interaction allowed for conversations about Russian-Ukrainian relations, the potential for conflict prevention, the experiences of Ukrainian refugees in Germany and the EU, among other topics, and as a team, we could tell that the children had several lightbulb moments during the conversation.
At the end of each event, participants were handed a pen and a piece of paper. Their task? Write down their hopes for Europe’s future. This exercise yielded a range of perspectives: Some participants envisioned a more closely integrated “United States of Europe,” while others emphasised diplomatic solutions to conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, a more balanced discussion in the European Parliament rather than a Western-European oriented one. These aspirations, which will be captured in the “Catalogue of Ideas,” will serve as a valuable resource for the Ukrainian Vibes team to present to the Members of the European Parliament, demonstrating people’s wish for a harmonious and forward-looking European future.
If we had to summarise it, the Ukrainian Vibes tour through Saxony can best be described as a road trip of ideas: It brought together people from different corners, encouraged them to chat, and showed that no matter where we’re from, we can all play a part in shaping Europe’s tomorrow.