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Yamal Tundra united volunteers of "Explore Yamal" international volunteer expedition

16 December 2021
Ямальская тундра объединила волонтёров международной добровольческой экспедиции «Explore Yamal»

The first volunteer expedition to the Yamal tundra «Explore Yamal» has been completed, bringing together 20 volunteers from the Arctic Council member states. It was organized by the state budgetary institution of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug «Arctic Volunteerism Center» as part of Russia’s chairmanship of Arctic Council in 2021-2023, operated by the Roscongress Foundation.

Twenty representatives of Arctic countries and regions spent five days in the tundra, in reindeer herders’ tents in the valley of Hanmei River. There volunteers helped nomads and their families, mainly in everyday life: preparing wood for tent heating and snow for water, ice milling, and cooking. Expedition participants were also introduced to the culture and traditions of indigenous people of the North and learned necessary skills of staying in tundra.

Medical volunteers conducted master classes on first aid, how to use the first aid kit (dosage and use of medicines), and how to care for children.

Actors of puppet theater «Zhuzhya» did not stand aside as well. They conducted a theatrical performance for indigenous people and participants of the expedition, taught those wishing to basic skills of puppet management and organized a creative master class on memorable souvenirs making.

«We found ourselves out of time, out of touch, totally dependent on nature for a few days. There was a rethinking of the values of our role and environment. We received from this project more than we gave in return! We tried to be helpful, and I hope we succeeded,» — shared participant Natalie Hamann.

The «Explore Yamal» project was initiated during first meeting of the Arctic Council Youth Project Office in October 2020. This project participants were representatives of volunteer communities and public organizations from Russia, Iceland, Sweden, the United States, and Germany. Current project promotes volunteerism and intercultural dialogue development among youth, popularization of traditions, customs, and comprehension of northern people philosophy, strengthening Russian Arctic regions humanitarian relations, increasing Yamal Arctic attractiveness as a territory open to development and new ideas.

Upon returning from an expedition, a roundtable meeting was held, where participants have shared their trip impressions and plans for further cooperation with the public and volunteers of Yamal.

«Reality has exceeded expectations. It’s amazing how much is unnecessary in our ordinary lives and how little is needed for complete happiness and harmony with ourselves and nature. Volunteers tried to be helpful in everyday life and more specialized areas: first aid and childcare skills will certainly help in an emergency and funny educational masterclasses of culture volunteers, and actors from puppet theater „Zhuzhya“ surprised even the most senior reindeer herders’ families’ representatives» — said Olga Podkovyrkina, project manager, and Arctic volunteer center director.

Cooperation of participants will go future. Knowledge gained during project will enable a deeper understanding of the Arctic indigenous people’ way of life specifics, their problems and needs, which means planning necessary and useful volunteer projects.