Voluntary work in exchange for education in Caucasus
A youth cultural and historical project of interethnic harmony 'Beacons of friendship. Towers of the Caucasus'- 2017, which will be held under the motto: 'Towards the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi' and under the theme: 'Preserving the heritage. Bringing peoples closer together!' started in Russia. The idea of the 'Beacons of friendship. Towers of the Caucasus' project have arisen following a survey among students of one of the Moscow universities, when the future organizers of the project found out that there is no proper mutual understanding and trust between the various national youth groups. And at the heart of the matter, first of all, is the lack of elementary knowledge about each other, which forms complexes and stereotypes.
Vice-President of the Association of Educational Institutions of Russia's Central Union of the Consumer Societies (Centrosoyuz), Ruslan Gusarov, said that 40 students from Moscow universities go to the Caucasus during the summer holidays, in order to take part in a two-week community work to preserve and restore Caucasian historical and cultural monuments: famous signal, battle and residential towers and fortresses. Towers, fortresses, as well as other objects of cultural and historical heritage and tourism become the "beacons of friendship", which gather people of goodwill around them, give positive emotions, provide knowledge, lay the foundations for new friendships. In turn, local authorities organize educational activities for participants.
"This year, Azerbaijan has expressed interest in our project, but we simply did not have enough time and organizational efforts to include Azerbaijan in the project this year. We could not take on this responsibility this year. Armenia and Abkhazia have also expressed interest in it," Ruslan Gusarov said.
Joint socially useful work, accommodation and cognitive recreation give students the opportunity to get to know their peers from the Caucasus republics on the spot, learn about their culture, traditions, customs. It also develop and strengthen the intra-Caucasian ties and relations.
In August 2016, the pilot project titled 'Beacons of Friendship. Towers of the Caucasus' was successfully implemented simultaneously in the republics of Ingushetia and North Ossetia-Alania, where it was held under the motto: 'Help, learn, tell - be friends!'. Within two weeks, international groups of Russian young people lived in shifts in both republics, participated in auxiliary works on the preservation of the towers under the supervision of specialists, studied local history and modern realities. Upon completion, the project was presented by the participants at the Mashuk-2016 youth forum in Pyatigorsk and at the 'Territory of Meanings on the Klyazma' forum by video conference.
In 2017, 'Beacons of Friendship. Towers of the Caucasus' is scheduled to be held in six republics of the North Caucasus Federal District (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia-Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia), as well as in the Republic of Adygea (South Federal District) and the Republic of South Ossetia (only eight regions), it is also planned to involve four times more participants, make the project annual and lay new traditions of friendship and good-neighborliness.
According to the acting rector of the State University of Management Vladimir Stroyev, 'Lighthouses of Friendship. The Towers of the Caucasus' contributes to the disclosure of the potential of the North Caucasus Federal District: "It is a new form of social and cultural tourism. The Caucasus is still underestimated in this sphere. Of course, those who's been there know how beautiful it is, how kind and sympathetic its people are. With the help of such a project, the participation of our students at the State University of Management and other universities, we try to show the Caucasus. Communication, clears things up, believe me. The guys who came there last year were inspired. This year some of them are ready to come back there, there are already many of them. That is, there was a selection this year".