I visited Kiev in Ukraine from March 19th to 23rd as I was invited to an International Conference about Ukraine-Russian conflict by Institute of International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University Kiev.
I wasn’t sure if I could go to Kiew because of the conflict between Ukraine and the pro-Russia group in the East Ukraine. My University also hesitated to give me a travel permission until one week before the conference. In the conference I was the only speaker from the Western Country. The title of my speech was “Cosmopolitan society, identity and education” which is now available online at
In my speech I summarized the concept of “cosmopolitan society” by Prof. Ulrich Beck and insisted that we must develop dialogue competence in higher education. After the conference I had a chance to discuss with some Ukrainian students who were critical to my topic. One student said to me: “We don´t need dialogue, but weapon!”. It supprised me a little, but this is a reality in Ukraine. At the same time I was annoyed, because my message to give dialogue a chance was not understood well. By ‘dialogue’ I did not mean “political dialogue”, but referred to ‘deep dialogue’ for radical respect and perspective-taking.
Off course my speech and the discussion after that was too short to let people understand completely what I intended. After the conference four students showed us the town of Kiev and their daily life and we enjoyed variety of delicious Ukrainian food. Only on Maydan Square I saw something from the ongoing conflict and the past bloody demonstration like military posters, many candles and photos of victims etc., but the atmosphere in the city was far from the ‘war time’. I saw many young people enjoying chatting in café and shopping. This is off course just a small part of Ukraine and one reality. On the last day of my stay in Kiev two students guided me to the military hospital where a lot of injured soldiers were treated and cared, some have no hands, legs, eyes… this is also one reality. These two students – Bogdan and Kriszine – came to the workshop “The Art of Dialogue” in Murnau/Bayern from May 29th to 31st. I am convinced that they could understand ‘deep dialogue’ which I have taught and researched since 15 years. “Give dialogue a chance and a time!”