AYF: A Way to Unite the World

photo_ayf Even though tastes differ, not everyone is ready to deal with it. The more marked the difference is, the harder it is to accept it. Difference itself may become a formidable challenge when it comes to communication between nations, and even peace becomes uneasy since nations often fail to find something in common.

Fortunately, recognizing this, the current generation is moving step by step towards mutual understanding of nations, and the ways elaborated for that are sometimes tremendously creative. For instance, Asian youth are blessed to have an opportunity to gather together once a year to learn about each other’s cultures, using English as a tool for that, to build bonds of friendship and to smooth over contradictions if there are some at a very special event for aspiring young people aged 18-25. And Russia never fails to turn up. In 2011 Marina Rashchepkina, a junior in the School of Regional and International Studies at the Far Eastern Federal University, took part in the 9thAsian Youth Forum “Embracing One Humanity”, which was held in Taipei, Taiwan on November 8–16.

The Asian Youth Forum (AYF) is a network organization for college-aged students and young people founded in 1999 by Professor Kip Cates of Tottori University (Japan) with the help of language educators and academic professionals who are an active part of the Pan Asian Consortium (PAC) and members of English language teaching associations in Asia. The idea of AYF is to bring together college and university students and young people from all over Asia at an international convention to meet with other young people and educators. AYF provides them with a venue where they can share their ideas, views and knowledge on culture, language, leadership and social and global issues, as well as learn from each other.

This year high on the AYF agenda were various global issues (war and peace, social security, human rights, sustainable development), language learning, intercultural communication, and leadership. Moreover, young diplomats had two extensive tasks to prepare beforehand. The first one was a 30-minute presentation about their home country, embracing geography, history, politics, cultural and social issues. The second task was a cultural performance which reflected the peculiarities of the participant’s native country.

77 representatives from 12 countries joined the AYF meeting in Taipei, though Marina was the only Russian delegate there. It was a great challenge for her to represent Russia by herself, since it is always easier and better to prepare with a team. However, she was excited to present Russian cultural traditions. She also participated in the PAC Conference on Language Teaching and spoke about the challenges of English language learning in the Russian Federation. Since AYF is held within the PAC framework, it has the purpose of bringing together the maturity of talented teachers and the bright outlook of promising young people from all over Asia.

Besides making lots of friends and contacts, Marina was honored to be elected Vice-President of the next (the 10th) AYF in Vladivostok. With her colleagues from Taiwan and Indonesia and with the greatest assistance of FEELTA (the Far-Eastern English Language Teachers’ Association) she will strive to do her best for the success of this Forum in Russia.

Marina Rashchepkina
FEFU student