First Lady of Ukraine presents two projects at the world’s largest Frankfurt Book Fair
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska is visiting Germany. The visit began with a meeting with the president of the Landtag (parliament) of the federal state of Hesse, Astrid Wallmann, during which the issue of school education for Ukrainian children in this region was discussed.
Zelenska emphasized the importance of creating such conditions that would contribute to maintaining communication and continuing education under the Ukrainian program. Currently, compulsory attendance at German schools, which is a legal norm, makes a full-fledged educational process in the online mode impossible in Ukrainian schools, since classes are mostly held at the same time.
The first lady also thanked the German people, organizations and public institutions for the support of Ukrainian citizens in Germany, as well as for the humanitarian aid provided to our country. Zelenska spoke about her charitable foundation, thanks to which such assistance can be targeted and even more effective. The wife of the President of Ukraine proposed to Wallmann that an online meeting with representatives of the business headquartered in Frankfurt am Main is initiated to discuss cooperation and their involvement as partners of the Olena Zelenska Foundation.
The First Lady also noted a common theme for further cooperation – the development of a barrier-free environment friendly to all citizens.
In addition, during the visit, Zelenska presented two projects at the Ukrainian stand of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the world. This year, Ukraine has several stands, including the national one. It features 43 publishing houses, and the program includes about 40 public and professional events in English and German with the participation of more than 70 writers, cultural figures, human rights defenders, artists and opinion leaders from Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Taiwan, and Bulgaria.
During her speech on the stage of the national stand, Zelenska talked about the book projects that are implemented jointly with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ukrainian Book Institute. The Books Without Borders first initiative is designed to provide children of forced migrants abroad with books in the Ukrainian language.
“This project is extremely important for us, because we want that, when a Ukrainian child asks his mother to read a bedtime story, she opens the book in her native language, because we want at least something to remain unchanged for these children, traumatized by the war – their daily routine of reading with their parents. After all, this is a sign of security and home comfort, a sense of normality and a home that Russia is stealing from children,” she said.
The First Lady also spoke about the Ukrainian Bookshelf, which has already appeared in 20 countries: Austria, Turkey, Lithuania, Slovakia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Latvia, Finland, Jordan, Croatia, Lebanon, Japan, Belgium, Albania, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea and Poland. Zelenska emphasized the particular meaning this project had after the full-scale invasion of Russia: “When we saw how the Russians were physically destroying our books, we realized that now the project has received a new meaning. Does anyone want Ukrainian books to not exist?
Well, it won’t just exist, but it will appear in the best libraries around the world.”
On the same day, the wife of the President of Ukraine visited the Central Library of Frankfurt am Main and, together with project partners – the Ukrainian Book Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine – added good quality books to the Ukrainian bookshelves of the institution. This became possible thanks to a partner – the Kyiv School of Economics. The selection includes the works of Ukrainian classics and modern authors, artistic, historical, and philosophical books that reflect the diversity of views on Ukraine and Ukrainianness, so that library visitors have an opportunity to get acquainted with Ukrainian culture. Ukrainian-language books were also added to the shelf – so that the temporary immigrants who were accepted by Frankfurt would have their own literary center in the city.
Zelenska told the audience about the extent of the destruction of libraries in Ukraine (about a hundred such institutions were destroyed) and said that our state plans to protect its culture as zealously as its people.
“I dream of a time when this war will remain only in books. We will definitely write about how Ukraine fought for its cultural heritage and how the whole civilized world helped it. I’m sure these will be books about victory,” the first lady said.