The Forum united over 250 young people from 6 countries and 14 Russian cities (Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Oryol, Dubna, Yekaterinburg, Rostov-on-Don, Tyumen and others). The Forum was organizationally and financially supported by the RF Ministry of Youth Affairs, Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Honorary Consulate of Norway in Arkhangelsk, Arkhangelsk Region Government, Joint Working Group on Education and Research and Joint Working Group on Youth of the Barents Region.
23 November 2015 marked the kick-off of the III International Students Forum. After a colorful and memorable opening ceremony, the key-note speakers and participants gathered for a panel discussion devoted to the issues of international youth cooperation. The main idea was to promote the Barents Region to the young representatives from all over Russia and abroad as a successful model of cross-border cooperation and attractive destination for studying and living that opens great opportunities for the youth for self-development, career making and creativity.
The panel session got together the real actors and drivers of the Barents cooperation. Among the panelists were Evgeny Zolotukhin, a representative of the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Andrey Shalyov, the Honorary Сonsul of the Kingdom of Norway in Arkhangelsk; Laila Dalhaug, Acting Head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat; Marina Kalinina, Vice-Rector of International Cooperation of the Northern Arctic Federal University, Chair of the Joint Working Group on Education and Research; Astrid Brokke, the International Adviser from of University of Tromsø-the Arctic University of Norway; Ekaterina Sharova, a member of the Norwegian Association of Fine Arts Experts Council.
The discussions emphasized the following
- the key role of universities in the Barents cooperation;
- priorities of the Russian Federation chairmanship programme in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council for 2015-2017 and potential role of the youth in enhancing international cooperation and achieving the strategic regional goals;
- increased number and thematic spectrum of international projects in the Barents Region;
- need for enhancing academic mobility programmes for students and staff of the Barents academia;
- strong cultural ties on the people-to-people level, youth cooperation in BEAR and stories of success in Russian-Norwegian youth projects, the Barents Regional Youth Council as an incubator of ideas for the youth;
- the cultural heritage of the Barents Region, Barents identity promotion and opportunities for developing the creative potential of the youth.
The panel discussion was followed by a question-answer session where the students asked about the problems of obtaining a Norwegian visa, the rights of the indigenous peoples of the North, the definition of success and the current challenges of the Barents cooperation.
The III International Belomorskiy Student Forum was rich in opportunities for discussion and communication. In the framework of the Forum’s workshops and seminars the participants could freely share their experiences, ideas and dreams.
The educational exhibition Barents EDU enabled the participants to have a closer look at academic mobility opportunities in the North and presented the Barents Region as an attractive educational destination. Representatives of UiT – the Arctic University of Norway and the University of Lapland (Finland) introduced the participants to educational programs that might be interesting for Russian students. During the Forum the local youth and guests also had an opportunity to share best practices of student self-governance organizations, learn more about NArFU’s unique Arctic Floating University Project and participate in the international workshop Are you willing to study abroad? and Barents Projects Lab: Presentation of Project Ideas, Best Practices and Meeting Partners.
A welcome addition to the Forum’s extremely diverse programme was the cultural event - Barents Bird Festival thanks to which the participants could immerse themselves in Norwegian culture through music, dance and visual arts, attend a series of open lectures by leading politicians, diplomats and cultural figures of the Barents Region.
At the sum-up session the students presented their projects titled My Model of International Cooperation. What is really crucial is that despite different approaches and visions presented, all the projects shared a common view of international cooperation as the one founded on peace, understanding and great opportunities for future generation.
Students Forum Organizing Committee