Inspiring Youth Opportunity Through Global Engagement

New York, June 2019

I grew up in an isolated place. Equally far away from Europe and Asia. Place, where people studied where they lived and often worked where they studied. I, for one, ended up working for my Alma Mater.

My town was restricted for visitors from abroad up until 1991 and all the knowledge we got about the outside world was through TV and newspapers. Needless to say there were a lot of exaggerations, misunderstanding and hence animosity toward “the others”. Opportunities to venture out, learn about that “other” world were scarce. But when we saw them, we seized them.  

I have been a Work and Travel program participant 3 times, I was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teacher Assistant at Colorado State University, and now am a proud member of the Atlas Corps community of change makers.

I cannot overemphasize how much these experiences have formed me as a person. I have learned about myself and my culture as much as I have learned about American culture. My every trip I love telling people about what it is like in Russia, sharing pictures of my home town and talking about Siberia, answering questions however difficult and tricky they might sometimes be, raising questions that interest me and asking people to share their perspectives or solutions. When I go back home I do the same. I talk to people and I tell them what I’ve learned: what’s new out there, what people believe in, and how they work and have fun.

I am a Head of International Division at a university today. And I couldn’t have become that, if it wasn’t for the opportunities I have had to engage with leaders globally. My cumulative international exposure made me want to promote change back home. I now work with youth myself and of course times have changed and the information is open and accessible, but going out there and immersing yourself into another culture, desiring to bring about change to your home, wherever it is, while keeping an open mind is still priceless. From day to day while talking to students I try to inspire them through storytelling, through sharing my own lived experiences, fears and personal victories, to go and seize the opportunity, to go and discover the world, to go help others and help yourself to be a bigger person by doing it.

As an international division we now bring international students from all over the world to Tomsk as well. We want the community to learn from them and they can learn about the new culture and people, and about themselves.