UA Days 2024 volunteers; Credit: Kateryna Mostova recently spoke with Olena Klopota, Secretary at LUkraine asbl, about the success of the second edition of the month-long UA Days festival which took place throughout June. 

The programme featured a total of nine cultural events, ranging from concerts to film screenings, and they attracted nearly 3,500 attendees. A total of €19,000 was raised to help LUkraine’s project of evacuating civilians from the frontline regions. This year’s theme, “Living Together”, celebrated unity and cultural exchange in Luxembourg in an effort to promote Ukrainian heritage. Please explain the purpose and idea behind UA Days.

Olena Klopota: We talk a lot about the importance of dialogue and diplomacy, about Ukrainians as ambassadors and representatives of Ukraine in the world. I wouldn’t underestimate cultural diplomacy in this aspect – understanding nations through their cultures and experiences, shaping one’s opinion based on knowledge of the roots – that gives a strong opportunity for cultural exchanges to happen and nation ties to become stronger and more supportive. UA Days in Luxembourg is created to share common values with other European nations, enrich Luxembourg’s cultural landscape and foster cross-cultural exchanges. How would you describe this year’s UA Days festival?

Olena Klopota: This year’s festival demonstrated an incremented success of 2023 – more sophisticated events, covering all age categories, immersing guests in Ukrainian culture. This year’s festival has matured, with a strong team behind the preparation and almost 100 volunteers supporting the efforts. A Ukrainian day festival in Rotondes, GO_A concert in Kulturfabrik, Micheal Garrett’s photo exhibition in ECA, movie screenings and more have attracted more Luxembourgish residents in addition to the Ukrainian community. Is there anything you wish to do differently next year?

Olena Klopota: We at LUkraine are obsessed with continuous improvement, so of course we are already brainstorming on how to do it better in 2025.  Next year we would like to shed more light on what Ukraine had and has to offer to the world in areas like art and literature, and address deeper topics like human rights and mental health support, especially in the war zones. What is the importance of hosting such events in Luxembourg?

Olena Klopota: Before the full-scale invasion in 2022, Luxembourg was home to less than 2000 Ukrainians. In this short period of time, the country received around 5000 Ukrainian war refugees, and both local residents and newcomers learned how to live together, get to know each other, find peace and understanding. “Living Together” was a motto of this year’s festival and was aimed to help Luxembourgers understand what being Ukrainian truly means. So, we greatly appreciate a strong continuous support of the Luxembourgish government, European Commission and each of our 25 partners and sponsors. What role does culture play in LUkraine’s efforts to help Ukraine?

Olena Klopota: Understanding and embracing someone else's culture means accepting them as their own, empathising and supporting.  My personal objective of UA Days in Luxembourg is to demonstrate that Ukraine is not just horrifying photos of unimaginable destruction and suffering, it’s also a gorgeous country with rich history, culture that stretches from ancient to modern times, unique opportunities and beautiful people, it’s a country worth saving and helping towards victory for freedom and future. 

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