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G., who participated in the 2010 EUVP:
During the 5 working days in Brussels in March 2010, where meetings had been arranged for me with 20 representatives of the EU Institutions, this programme helped me to move from theory to practice and to adjust my previous knowledge. I had an opportunity to meet with different specialists that took place in different buildings of the EC, I was very impressed by how much attention the EU institutions pay to support and development in EU-Russia relations. It was a very interesting and useful study tour. During the meetings I had discussions with specialists on the following topics: How large the EU can become in terms of border and identity? The activities of European Union institutions in a range of policy areas; What multiculturalism might mean as a political project that EU member states might be for or against? What are the general expectations and fears in view of the phenomena of Islamophobia? What will be important to further improvement of multidimensional cooperation between EU institutions and Russian professionals: to develop a political dialogue and mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of conflicts; partnership in social and cultural fields? Co-operation with higher educational institutions in Russia in the field of information on EU policies. Are there any special programmes designed for this purpose?
This EUVP is excellent for several reasons. First, it is good to study outside of your country and you can understand a problem from different angles. Second, you can make many useful personal contacts with people who can help in implementing your particular project in a future. I definitely encourage young professionals from Dagestan to apply to this program because it is necessary to show initiative, be open for new contacts and ready to meet new people. I sincerely hope to keep in touch with the people I met during my stay in Brussels.
E., who participated in the seminar “Gender Equality in youth projects”
at the European Youth Centre:
The seminar's main
objective was not to teach participants from different countries how to
deal with gender issues, it was more of a discussion: sharing experiences,
identifying challenges, exploring new trends, exchanging experiences of
youth projects, making concrete proposals on how to improve gender-based
problems. I like how the seminar was organized - everybody had
the chance to express their own opinion, to argue, agree or disagree with
the statements, opinions, etc. I obtained a lot of knowledge
on gender issues, for example, the difference between gender and sex,
gender equality and gender equity. All of these discussions gave me a
lot of food for thought, even if sometimes it was a little confusing,
because I could not always find examples from my reality in Chechnya to
share. However, I am happy that I had the opportunity to learn more about
these new ideas. Working in groups, my colleagues and I identified and
presented to other groups the challenges that we consider the highest
priority, and then we prepared recommendations.
Ch., who participated in the 2009 John Smith Fellowship in Britain:
But above all I am grateful for having met all the other fellows! I confess that I am missing all of them and our discussions (especially the questions-answers parts, the evening walks and chats)! We spent a lot of time in learning, absorbing good things and dismissing bad ones, asking questions, exciting and surprising each other, relaxing, singing, dancing, walking, reading and so many other things. I still remember our National Food Night. Everything was so delicious there! The wonderful taste of various national dishes reflected how special all of our countries are, and of course each of us proved to be a very talented and accomplished person. These nice memories will always be with me!
Now I understand why Brian Brivati, the programme director, mentioned “life changing experience”, because for me the John Smith Fellowship was a time when I got so much: knowledge, energy, understanding, even a new kind of appreciation and respect. I believe that for me, the most valuable aspect of the programme was my attachments (time spent with relevant British institutions. I visited several organizations that support business in Great Britain, so I could observe their activities from close by and obtained knowledge on the forms of the effective public-private partnership and met with representatives of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce. I was very impressed by how much attention the British Government pays to business support and development in U.K. Also, during the program, with my newly-obtained knowledge and information on support and development of business in Great Britain I developed the project "Practical advice for business", which includes creating a web-site similar to the web-site of Business Link (www.businesslink.gov.uk). Among a range of practical advice the website will contain: online workshops, trainings conducted in the business-learning centre of the Chechen Chamber of commerce and industry where I am currently employed, online exhibitions, search of partners, online forums and conferences. Also, I plan to organize a team of professional business advisers in order to hold one on one consultations for small and medium sized businesses and designing and producing guides offering practical advice for businesses in all aspects of business. I believe that my project “Practical advice for business” will significantly contribute to business development in Chechnya. It will help our entrepreneurs save time and money and to get quick and reliable access to much-needed information and advice. I will do my best to implement the project!
And I am very much looking forward to our follow up conference in London!
I., who participated in the Hansen Summer Institute in California:
All in all, everything went well. We had been well-prepared for the program, because we had earlier been sent brochures with information about the program and everything took place as described. About the program: it was very intensive - lectures, excursions, visiting different charter schools (private schools for poor children) and a center for the rehabilitation of young criminals. We also visited the city administration of San Diego and met personally with the mayor. The rest of our time was organized in the same way. We visited an "Independence Day" parade, had picnics, went to the zoo and so on. I particularly liked our visit to the border with Mexico, which was an indescribable impression for me, because at the fence were simple, poor Mexican migrants. Concerning the lectures, they were really interesting, the teachers interacted with us all the time and gave us opportunities to find out the truth on our own. Different kinds of games gave us a chance to immerse ourselves in conflict situations. When the program was completed, all the participants had to write a final report, like a feedback. I had some problems with the language; in everyday conversations I was comfortable, but following the lectures was hard for me. Future participants should know that it is really important to know English well!
Concerning participants from other countries, I had warm relationships with all of them, found a common language with them despite our different mother tongues and especially befriended participants from Cameroon and Sri Lanka. In the course of the whole program we were together, getting to know each other better and better, although we had this kind of contact with all participants. I am still in contact by them through the internet.
I learned how we need to communicate with people from all over the world, that it is necessary to seek dialogue in all situations and I learned some useful things about leadership qualities. We played out conflict situations and tried to find ways out these situations and many other things. I consider this a very valuable program, even more so for young people from our region. The program teaches tolerance, which is lacking so much from today's world.
U., who participated in a fellowship for ethnic minorities at the UN/OHCHR
A., who participated in an online/distance course on education journalism:
I’m glad I had the chance to participate in the TOL course "Improving coverage of education issues". The knowledge I got from it helps me during my professional work. Also I’m grateful to the Chechnya Advocacy Network, because without them I wouldn’t have known about this opportunity."
P., who spent a year in New York on a legal fellowship:
A., who participated in the 2008 John Smith Fellowship in Britain:
During the fellowship I designed a project on community development and infrastructure improvements in my native town of Shalazhi, Chechnya. The International Rescue Committee, at my initiative, will perform a Quick Implementation Project on water supply and sanitation improvements in the town this October. Hopefully, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will become a strategic partner of the IRC/North Caucasus, which will enable the NGO to implement more projects in the area. This new cooperation came as a direct and immediate result of the work I did within the fellowship programme. Moreover, the Fellowship programme in itself is not designed as a transient event with a quick termination; on the contrary, it starts a far-reaching development initiative and continuing co-operation for years to come.
I definitely encourage young professionals from the North Caucasus to apply to the John Smith Fellowship. The only thing I regret is that I can't be a first-time fellow again……
S., who participated in a training on women's rights in Sweden:
M., who participated in a journalism training in Prague:
The Chechnya Advocacy Network was formed out of deep concern about the situation in Chechnya and the surrounding areas and the challenges faced by Chechen refugees elsewhere. We strive to raise awareness of the situation in the region, particularly its human dimension, advocate for a strong international response to humanitarian and rebuilding challenges and work to empower local people to improve their communities. We do not endorse any specific political outcomes. Instead, our goal is to help the residents of the North Caucasus region build a peaceful and happy future. We welcome everyone who shares these goals with us.
Copyright 2004, Zachary Hutchinson