Ostroh Club was a serious basis for adult life for its participants. It was a transition period from being students to realization of what they wanted to do in life. Let us remind our readers that the Ostroh Club of Free Intellectual Communication (OC) was founded in 2006 thanks to an initiative of The Day’s editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna during the traditional Science Days at the Ostroh Academy. At that time, the author of this article was one of the leaders of a group of students who came from Odesa. In his turn, the student of the then Donetsk National University Serhii Stukanov joined the OC literally at one of the following meetings, which took place in Ostroh as well, by the way. The goal of the Ostroh Club was internal Ukrainian integration, achieved by means of communication of students from different Ukrainian universities, who themselves organized the meetings in Odesa, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Chernivtsi, etc. Of course, The Day has always been there, helping and guiding. In time, the OC gave us an opportunity to rise to a higher level. Today, I am working for The Day in Kyiv, and Stukanov is a public figure in Donetsk, he is a head of the Ukrainian Speech Club. On the eve of The Day’s Days in Donetsk (starting on March 5, the citizens of Donetsk will be able to see the best photographs from The Day’s 2012 Photo Contest at the ArtDonbas exhibition center), I called Stukanov to discuss some relevant matters, a few of them related to his native Donbas. But we started our conversation with the OC. I must admit, it was interesting to talk to my colleague in this new role as a journalist.
What did the Ostroh Club mean to you?
“It meant a lot to me. I can surely say that thanks to the Ostroh Club, I learned so much more about Ukraine, got acquainted with its regional peculiarities, and also got an opportunity to see more clearly the common things that unite Ukrainians on both sides of the Dnipro River. While actively participating in the Ostroh Club events, I visited quite a lot of Ukrainian cities and towns, which I would have probably never done otherwise. It is very important that those were intellectual trips: we organized conferences and roundtables, talked with the representatives of regional intellectual elites, visited local sights. All this let each of us develop personally, and at the same time we worked on creating the common understanding of the direction Ukraine should move in, and of what should be put into the notion ‘national idea.’ The Ostroh Club united young people with high ideals. It might sound too pathetic, but there was something aristocratic about it (I mean the aristocratism of spirit). It was no coincidence that the name of the club related to the town of Ostroh, an ancient center of Ukrainian spirituality.”
The first project that comes to mind is ‘Donetsk without Tobacco Smoke.’ These days, activists of the anti-tobacco campaign carried out an examination of cafes, bars, and restaurants, and found out that smoking prohibition is violated partially or fully in 15 percent of them. Besides, a several-month-long project ‘Healthy,’ organized by the Donetsk Center of the Foundation of Regional Initiatives, is starting soon. It will be opened on March 2 with an event in Lenin Square.
What is your assessment of the public sector in the Donbas? How active is it?
“It seems to me that it is rather active. The Donbas is a specific region, where paternalistic mood has been strong ever since the Soviet times. People tend to be directed by what the government tells them. At the same time, there are alternative social movements. There are a few centers and NGOs in Donetsk region, whose activity is aimed at developing the civil society, protecting human rights, etc.”
What are the largest public initiatives in the region?
“Traditionally, the strongest one is the movement connected with healthy and safe life. The first project that comes to mind is ‘Donetsk without Tobacco Smoke.’ These days, activists of the anti-tobacco campaign carried out an examination of cafes, bars, and restaurants, and found out that smoking prohibition is violated partially or fully in 15 percent of them. Besides, a several-month-long project ‘Healthy,’ organized by the Donetsk Center of the Foundation of Regional Initiatives, is starting soon. It will be opened on March 2 with an event in Lenin Square. In general, the project will consist of two cycles; the first of them will stress the cognition of one’s own physical and spiritual abilities, and the second one will be dedicated to healthy nutrition.
“By the way, another project created by the Foundation of Regional Initiatives is worth mentioning. It is a political class ‘Simple,’ and it was just now over. For a month, members of the class could listen to lectures on political theory given by experts, get acquainted with the realities of Ukrainian politics, and try to win an election campaign. The traditional ‘Leader School’ from the NGO Youth of Democratic Alliance is yet to take place in March.
“Finally, I would like to mention the Ukrainian Speech Club, which I am the head of. It was organized thanks to the initiative of the volunteer movement ‘Space of Freedom’ and supported by the Youth of Democratic Alliance mentioned above. We have held nine meetings in two and a half months. Anyone can improve their Ukrainian, develop speech skills, and just have a good time at the speech club.”