Emotions don’t get lost in translation – a pub night in Kharkiv with Studrespublika


Lost in translation

To be perfectly honest: There were some moments during our encounter with participants of Studrespublika when I felt a bit lost in translation. Some of the German students of our group speak Russian and Anna – who organized our field trip – does a great job at preserving the speakers‘ emotions while translating from Ukrainian/Russian to German. However, on Sunday evening in a German pub in Kharkiv, I found myself in the situation of not speaking Russian and trying to have a meaningful conversation with Ukrainians who did not speak English fluently. Therefore, we were relying on Google translate most of the time – or simply on emotions. Laughing or being silent sometimes says more than a thousand words.



Studrespublika (Students‘ republic) is an all-Ukrainian non-governmental youth organization. On their website they state that their mission is the „[…] education of new generations, capable of free thinking, of new leaders for Ukraine as an absolutely sovereign state, as well as integration of Ukraine to the world’s Top-20 developed countries. „

In order to achieve this goal, Studrespublika organizes camps in winter and summer where they hope to form the „civil participation abilities of students“. Most students we talked to got to know the organization because they wanted to participate in the social activities that take place during the summer camp. Hence, Studrespublika uses positive emotions like joy and openness in order to connect young people with politics.


The role of civil society for the development of Ukranian politics

During a lecture at Mohyla Academy Dr. André Härtel stated that the apolitical civil society in Ukraine is responsible for the lack of change in the situation of the country. He admitted that this statement was controversial and it caused a discussion after the lecture. Is the Ukrainian civil society really apolitical? And under which circumstances are people motivated to get involved with politics?

I did not find complete answers to these questions that evening. However, I got an impression of the situation that Ukrainian students find themselves in. Studrespublica is being financed through membership fees – in Germany most projects are supported through public financing. Very few young Ukrainians have left their country and some have not even left the region they live in. Affordable flight connections are rare because air traffic is to a large extent under control of an oligarch.

Moreover, the young people represented a part of the ’sample‘ of active Ukrainians we talked to during our trip. With only 2 days left in here I will dare to make a statement concerning Dr. Härtel’s statement: I have listened to very politically active people and to some that were less active. I have heard very hopeful statements and rather pessimistic ones. I have laughed a lot but I have also heard very sad stories. In conclusion, I will definitely have to return to the Ukraine and to Kharkiv, in order to get an image that is more complete. And I hope that google translate will become more accurate in the meantime.

Nevertheless, we spent a memorable and emotional night at the pub in Kharkiv.

5 Gedanken zu “Emotions don’t get lost in translation – a pub night in Kharkiv with Studrespublika

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