SCVYS visit to Russia!

9 ноября 2015
SCVYS visit to Russia!

Report from Amy Preece, the Cannock Co-ordinator for Talent Match Staffordshire…

I recently went to Russia. The trip itself was part of an official exchange between Staffordshire County and Ivanovo Region. The exchange was focused on youth volunteering, and was organised by Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services (SCVYS). The group consisted of 6 young people, and 2 leaders (Amy being one of these, as she’s now too old to be termed “a young person”L). We spent two days in Moscow sightseeing, and exploring the capital. Red Square was an amazing sight (especially at night)!

On the second night we made the 6 hour drive to Ivanovo where the majority of the exchange would take place. In Ivanovo we were kindly looked after by host families who worked closely with YMCA Ivanovo. Whilst there we had a full programme which included sightseeing, seminars, volunteering activities, civic duties, and cultural exchange evenings.

The topic of the 2-part seminar was “breaking stereotypes, and forming friendships”, the young people involved on each side of the exchange discussed their expectations and slowly broke down the stereotypes and barriers that were in place. After this they created 3 projects that could be jointly worked on that would continue to strengthen our friendships and improve relations once we were back home. I’m very excited that these should be kicking off in the New Year! We also did some volunteering at Gymnasium 32, a school in the city.

They put on a wonderful morning of traditional dance and music, and gave informative presentations on how they volunteer in their communities. After this morning we spent time with their students helping them develop their English speaking skills, giving them a rare chance to practice with a native speaker. We did some volunteering at Zoo 37 too, a shelter on the outskirts of the city that housed 150 dogs, and 70 cats. We spent time socialising with the animals. It was here that many of the Staffordshire delegates fell out with me for refusing to let them bring the very cute puppy’s home!

The official part of the delegation took place when the Staffordshire delegation scrubbed up and met the Interim Head of State for Ivanovo. Also present were the Head of Education, Head of Youth, an International Relations worker, the Chief Executive of YMCA Ivanovo, and the head of their board and some youth volunteers. We had a positive meeting discussing the relationship between our countries, the positive impact volunteering has on our community and how volunteering as a young person will help you build skills that will be helpful for the rest of your life.

Overall the exchange was highly successful. Everybody involved learned a lot, and many barriers were broken down. The young people quickly became a close knit group, who I believe will stay friends for a long time and continue to be change makers in their local communities, and wider areas. I can genuinely say, I have never been to a country where the people have been more hospitable, and shown such openness to learning and understanding difference in cultures. Conversations around the voluntary sector in both countries took place, and it was reassuring to know we seem to be facing the issues and working for the same goal.