On Empathy and Caring Attitude Towards History
Every woman is naturally a mother who wants her loved ones, children and grandchildren, to live in peace. Wars have never brought happiness to humanity. To make sure that they won’t be repeated, we must not forget how much loss and pain they bring. Bringing up empathy, a sense of belonging, and a love of peace in young people is the most important task of every educational institution. The Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies (IGUMO) and the International College for Arts and Communication (MKIK) carry out several socially significant projects. Thanks to them, students learn to understand and feel the older generation better, to respect the history of their country, and to cherish peace.
Rector of the Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies (IGUMO) and the International College for Arts and Communication (MKIK), co-founder of the Peace 50 community, Head of the Global Women Media news agency
Several months ago, IGUMO and MKIK launched the Empathy project. Within its framework, students together with their mentors regularly meet with veterans of the Great Patriotic War. This is not a tribute to fashion or events timed to Victory Day but a systemic and serious work aimed at strengthening communication among generations. Taking part in the project helps students learn to empathize, feel their belonging to their ancestral experience and roots, and be interested in their family history. Thanks to such communication, young people begin to understand the older generation better. In their turn, elderly people have the opportunity to share their valuable experience and memories.
Such meetings make it possible to awaken a deep kindness and love in the hearts of young people. These are the very feelings on which peace rests.
Veterans share stories from their lives with students, teach them to negotiate and cherish human life and feelings, and show the importance of preserving memory. “A bad peace is better than a good quarrel” is a proverb that veterans often say filling it with special meaning because they know that from their own experience.
One of the first meetings within the Empathy project took place with Ariadna Cheltsova. During her childhood and youth, that smiling and good-natured woman experienced a lot of tragic events: Stalin repressions, World War II, and difficult postwar years. However, she managed to maintain kindness in her kind heart and to achieve considerable success in her profession.
Ariadna Cheltsova shared her story in the form of a dynamic, touching, and sometimes painfully scary but wise tale full of pieces of advice that can teach us a lot.
The meeting gave the warmest feelings to the students and the veteran. Moreover, Ariadna Cheltsova became a frequent guest of the Institute. According to her, she immediately felt the sincerity and openness of the young people and their interest in her personality and life story.
Grigory Ostapets told the students how he had defended Leningrad. Vladimir Buchenkov shared a fascinating story about his love for airplanes and the responsibility of fighter pilots who had guarded the skies over Moscow during World War II.
These were the people who survived the horrors of war but still preserved the love of life, a sense of humour, and kindness in their hearts.
Last year, students of IGUMO and MKIK together with the Peace 50 community fulfilled a project called ‘Letters to the Front’ timed to Victory Day. They asked schoolchildren from different Russian cities to write letters to their grandmothers and grandfathers, the frontline soldiers of the Great Patriotic War. The children told about how they live in peacetime, what they dream and think of. The best essays were included in a memory book illustrated by IGUMO students. Women leaders of the Peace 50 community wrote their reviews of the children’s letters. They were especially touched by the students’ sincere and conscious gratitude to their ancestors and their caring attitude to history and memory.
This year, IGUMO and MKIK have prepared another book that will be published in June. These are stories from the life of Vladimir Buchenkov, honoured military pilot of the USSR, war veteran, and Major General of Aviation. This year, he celebrates his 101st birthday. Vladimir Buchenkov still meets schoolchildren and students and tells them about the past, thus passing on true facts from history and maintaining the connection among generations.
The Road to Victory exhibition of war photography opened in the IGUMO Gallery on April 29, 2021. The exposition is available for a free visit until June 7.
The exposition includes the works of three outstanding Soviet photographers who captured the events of World War II on their photos: Evgeny Khaldei, Arkady Shaikhet, and Mark Markov-Grinberg. The project gave viewers an opportunity to see real testimonies of the events fateful for Russia.
The fact that the photographers’ works were provided by their close relatives, their daughters and granddaughter, became a special feature of the exhibition. On the opening day of the exhibition, they personally talked to the students about their vision of the importance to preserve the memory of past events.
“It is valuable that students often sincerely thank us for such meetings and projects. Stories of living people touch them much more than phrases from textbooks. Unfortunately, the past is quickly forgotten. Today, we talk very little about World War I and remember the history of World War II increasingly less often. However, we should not allow those terrible and brutal events to simply slip from our memory”, believes Marina Volynkina, Rector of IGUMO and MKIK.
“The war must be remembered because it must not be allowed to happen”.
On the eve of Victory Day, the students of IGUMO and MKIK prepared a concert for the veterans of the Izmaylovo District. When preparing the performance, the students not just learned the words but also managed to pass the tragedy of World War II through their feelings.
The concert clearly demonstrated: all projects dedicated to empathy and preserving historical memory have a great impact on young people. Such meetings and initiatives make it possible to change the worldview of the younger generation and foster the best human qualities in young people including the unconditional love in their hearts that protects them from aggression and negativity.
The future of the planet depends directly on the qualities that we instil in the younger generation today.
Marina Volynkina believes that, to a greater extent, women are responsible for the upbringing of the younger generation. That is why many of the projects of IGUMO and MKIK are carried out with the participation of the Peace 50 international women’s community.
“Today, our task is to bring up the rising generation making sure that these people won’t even think about the possibility of waging war in the future. To do that, we need to teach our children to love not only their homeland and their close people but also the entire planet and all people living on it. It is important that the younger generation understands that a peaceful sky above our heads is not just a gift from fate but a huge work that every person must do within him- or herself. Such qualities as empathy, belonging, and unconditional love for the world and other people are nurtured in people through daily actions. As a Rector and the co-founder of the Peace 50 community, I am proud that our educational institution provides all conditions for the development of the best human qualities in students. The future of our world is in their hands”, comments Marina Volynkina.
In September 2020, the Peace 50 community initiated and carried out an action timed to the International Day of Peace. Women leaders from different countries and fields of activity together with IGUMO and MKIK students took part in a large-scale online campaign called Peace Hour. For an hour, they shared their vision of a perfect world of the future.
Peace 50 is a bright example of how effective horizontal communication is for the development and preservation of peace. The community brings together women from Russia, the USA, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, France, Belgium, China, and other countries. Those women are leaders in their fields of activity and persons caring about the future of the planet. Being in constant communication, they fulfil joint projects, solve common social problems, and exchange experience, knowledge, and ideas.
The establishment of the community marked the beginning of the very friendship, which united the countries of the world at the level of specific people. Today, joining their hands and uniting their hearts, participants of Peace 50 call upon all people of the world to live without wars: to live a life of love, understanding, and respect.
«The value of memories is very important for the future of humanity, for global prosperity and world peace. Empathy and care are the keys to peace», Barbara Dietrich, Editor-in-Chief of the Diplomatic World Magazine, co-founder of the Peace 50 community (Belgium), believes.
«Remembering is an integral part of our culture. Why should we remember? The memory helps to survive the present and to set the course for the future. Richard von Weizsäcker, in his much-noticed speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe on May 8, 1985, justified the need to remember as follows: «But anyone who turns a blind eye to the past becomes blind to the present. Anyone who does not want to remember the inhumanity becomes susceptible to new risks of infection again».
Marina Volynkina, Viktoria Yezhova,
Global Women Media news agency