Online Award Ceremony of Ukraine’s History Competition
Against all odds, 27 winner teams attended the online award ceremony of Ukraine’s history competition. The festivities displayed a special bond forged in the face of the war.
From start to finish, this year’s history competition in the Ukraine was anything but normal. With the online award ceremony, held on 28 June 2022, this very special project came to its close. More than 70 participants came together celebrating the finale of the competition “Soviet Past: (Re)thinking the History”. Andrii Fert, project coordinator and member of DVV International Country Office Ukraine, led through the ceremony.
In total, 65 works from 282 students were submitted, making it a hard decision for the jury who selected the winners by a two-stage review. They ultimately chose 27 winning entries. Seven projects were awarded first prize, nine entries came second, and eleven works came third. During the award ceremony, the teams were welcomed and congratulated by special guest Katharina Schaupp-Karmann, Head of the Department for Culture, Education and National Minorities at the German Embassy in Kiev. She commended the incredible motivation of the young researchers, who, despite the war, managed to complete their entries.
The online award ceremony connected participants from all over the country: while some fled to other regions within the Ukraine or sometimes even to other countries, others attended from the currently occupied territories.
This issue of the war also played a role during a panel which was at the centre of the award ceremony. Many competitors noted the difficulty to complete and submit their research on time, since the first deadline of 1 March coincided with the start of the war by Russia. During the exchange that was moderated by NOVA DOBA founder and competition organiser Petro Kendzor, it also became clear that the current conflict appeared to have influenced the projects themselves: many researchers seemed to view the totalitarian Soviet past to be in line with Russia’s current aggression against Ukraine. But despite stressful situations before the award ceremony, many students expressed the opinion that the competition seemed like a beacon of society’s stability in times of war. Particularly the preparation seminars, held beforehand during the autumn of 2021 in Kiev, were commended for having provided useful guidance. Some noteworthy creative interactive formats, such as the method of “oral history” combined with “immersive theater”, were also well received.
After the panel, some members of the jury who had the difficult job of selecting the winning entries against the backdrop of the war addressed the participants of the award ceremony. They highlighted the originality of the works which seemed to be exclusive in content to this competition’s topic. Despite some research being uncritically nostalgic about the “achievements” of the Soviet era, the entries overall demonstrated a highly critical approach towards the historical sources. The jury also observed a shift in the research perspective: the participants not only wanted to delve into the era by taking the perspective of a “typical” person but also reflect the inner workings of a Soviet citizen by their experiences, their emotions and their well-being. Apart from that the jury noted that the participants strongly empathized with the eyewitnesses.
The competition “Soviet Past: (Re)thinking the History” was organised by NOVA DOBA – All-Ukrainian Association of Teachers of History, Civic Education and Social Studies and DVV International Ukraine with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office.
All competition entries can be found here.