November 26, 2018

How cultural diplomacy works in practice: Ukrainian Week in the United Nations in Vienna

For the first time, the Vienna International Centre (VIC) - one of the four Headquarters of the United Nations (UN) - hosted a series of numerus cultural events organized in the framework of the Ukrainian Week at the United Nations in Vienna from 12 to 16 November 2018. The initiative was organized with an overall purpose of promoting women´s empowerment and leadership, while introducing and popularizing Ukrainian culture and artists within the UN community. The Week was organized by the VIC Ukrainian Club in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the International Organizations. Important financial support was provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The VIC Ukrainian Club brings together Ukrainians, who work at the UN and other international organizations in Vienna, as well as members from other countries supporting Club’s activities. It aims at popularizing Ukraine, its culture, science, art, music, literature and sports within the international community in Vienna.

The opening of the event took place on 12 November 2018 in the Mozart room of the VIC restaurant and started with an interactive session, themed “Accelerating Sustainable Development through Women’s Empowerment and Leadership”. Renowned female leaders partook in the discussion. Among them were Oksana Lyniv, the first female Chief Conductor of the Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra in Graz, Austria; Olga Garashchuk, neurophysiologist, Head of the Department of Neurophysiology, University of Tübingen, Germany; Yevheniya Kuleba, a Chairwoman of the non-governmental organization “Garden-City” and a public activist from Kyiv; and Anna Iarotska, an entrepreneur and co-founder of "Robo Wunderkind" from Vienna, Austria. Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna and Charles Arthur, Advocacy and Media Relations Officer, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also participated in the discussion. Ihor Prokopchuk and Fatou Haidara, Managing Director, UNIDO participated in the session and gave welcoming remarks. The session was opened and moderated by Solomiya Omelyan, President of the VIC Ukrainian Club. The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna.

The panelists shared their success stories, inspiring other girls and women to pursue their dreams, professional aspirations and play a proactive role in society. As a result of a lively conversation, the participants concluded that the theme of women's empowerment is extremely relevant. Regarding a concrete advice on how to become a leader, the participants emphasized that everything begins with a great dream that turns into a true goal, and then into conscientious work to achieve the result.

Over 200 people, including ambassadors and other representatives of diplomatic corps, UN staff, representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora, the Association of the Ukrainian youth in Austria, students, and many others attended the session.

At the opening, a brochure, prepared as a result of the Club’s project From Inspiration to Action, was presented by Oksana Pavliska, coordinator of the project. The project was initiated with the aim to support, inspire and motivate other girls and women to be socially active and fulfill their professional goals and aspirations.

In conclusion, Nataliya Yaremchuk, an activist of the Club, introduced Ukrainian artists, whose art works were presented at the Rotunda - the main hall of the VIC during the Ukrainian Week. Painters Natalia Kolpakova, Ivan Protsiv, Victoria Protsiv, Maryna Naumchuk and Olha Hnativ, and a photo artist Alina Wolf, as well as designers of 3-D wooden maps Ihor and Anatoliy  Dziubenko were among the artists, represented at the exhibition. The overall coordination of the exhibition was provided by Oksana Fedoriv.

The adornment of the session was the work of prominent Ukrainian composers Vasyl Barvinsky, Myroslav Skoryk and Oleksandr Kozarenko, brilliantly performed by an amazing pianist Yaromyr Bozhenko and a rising star - a talented young singer Natayia Stepanyak (soprano).

On 13 November, an educational master-class on programming of toy robots for children from 5 to 99 years old took place in cooperation with “Robo Wunderkind” company from Vienna. The event was coordinated by Olga Sholoyko, an activist of the Club. It gathered children and their parents at the UN premises. The workshop was educational and entertaining as everyone got a unique chance to learn how to build and code robots while playing with them. The event was organized in cooperation with Anna Iarotska, owner of “Robo Wunderkind” and her amazing team who guided the participants step by step throughout the interactive and educational process of programming robots. At the end of the workshop, all guests received certificates of participation.

On 14 November, a concert and a signing flash mob were organized for the VIC staff and visitors. The flash mob took place in the VIC cafeteria, where singers performed one of the most famous Ukrainian Christmas masterpieces “Carol of the Bells” by a Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. The concert was enjoyed by over 100 people and featured Ukrainian songs and a legendary folk instrument – bandura. The audience listened to Yaromyr Bozhenko, piano player, Olena Nechai, singer and bandura player, young singer Natalya Stepanyak and a chamber ensemble “Halychanka”. The concert was moderated by Oksana Pavliska.

On 15 November, UN staff and invited children attended the “Petrykivka painting workshop”, organized in cooperation with the Ukrainian Saturday’s School in Vienna (https://ukr-schule.at/uk) and coordinated by Nataliya Yaremchuk. The participants learned the basics of the unique “petrykivka” painting technique.

The Ukrainian Week ended on 16 November with a grand fashion show, featuring leading Ukrainian designers Roksolana Bogutska and Olena Dats and a young designer Lyubov Chernikova. More than 300 people came to enjoy the event. Ballroom dancers Nadiya and Konstantin Panchenko, multiple prize winners of international competitions, Viennese DJ Peter Ambryk and Natalya Stepanyak entertained the audience. Ksenia Titova, an activist of the Club moderated the evening.

The fashion show ended with closing remarks by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, Ihor Prokopchuk and Solomiya Omelyan, President of the VIC Ukrainian Club. Solomiya commended all volunteers and supporters for their incredible work that has been done to make the Ukrainian Week happen.

Throughout the week, guests were able to attend charity sales in the VIC cafeteria, where exquisite handmade Ukrainian souvenirs, designer clothes, books and selected works of art were offered. Collected funds will be used for the Club’s charity project for pre-school children in the orphanage #1 in Lviv, Ukraine. Organizing the charity sales became possible thanks to numerous contributors, namely:

Art Gallery “Veles” and its owner Halyna Tryntsolyn; manufactory of handmade porcelain products “ATTA” and its Director Anatoliy TitovIvan Malkovych, owner and Director of the publishing house A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA; brand “Silver Story”and its owner Marianna Gritsyshyn; Art Salon “Art + Décor” and its owner Marta Dobryanska; company “UkrGifs” and its owner Julia Grushko; decor-studio “Korali” and its owners Dana Yakymchuk and Lada Talanchuk; fashion designers Olena Dats’ and Lyubov Chernikova, jewelry artist Olga Mikula; and many others. In cooperation with the project Ukraїner (https://ukrainer.net/uk /) short video clips about Ukraine were shown in the premises of the UN.

At the VIC cafeteria, the enthusiastic team of cooks from the Viennese restaurant Schnk, led by the restaurant’s owner Roman Zhorin, prepared delicious Ukrainian national dishes, which were available throughout the whole event for UN staff, delegations and guests.

The VIC Ukrainian Club would like to thank everyone for participation and incredible support! We look forward to our future cooperation in the area of cultural diplomacy for promoting a positive image of Ukraine in the world. Explore Ukraine with us!