‘The First Step Towards Boosting My Skills Was When I Started Studying at HSE University in Moscow’
Abdelilah Ghazioui first came to HSE Moscow in January 2015 to attend a winter school. He liked the experience so much that he decided to enrol in HSE’s Master’s programme in Public Policy and Political Analysis the same year. In an interview with HSE News Service, Abdelilah looks back on his studies at HSE and life in Moscow and talks about his non-profit organization.
Benefits of Studying Abroad
I chose public policy and political analysis because I wanted to study politics and all disciplines related to it. Another factor that influenced my decision was that HSE is one the famous educational institutions in the world. Once I saw the curriculum of the master programme, I understood that all of the courses fitted well together and would enable me to gain full comprehension of political sciences.
Studying in Russia without any prior knowledge of the Russian language could seem like a challenge at the beginning, especially considering the fact that the English language is not so common in the streets, supermarkets, and even in the public transport. Also, there was the weather to be considered—I still remember arriving in Moscow in October 2015 when I was wearing a T-shirt in Casablanca while it was -15 in Moscow. However, I overcame all the challenges. Being engaged in the Russian community certainly helped—I took part in different cultural and social events, made Russian friends, and travelled around the country.
The time I spent in Moscow made me recognize the importance of travelling abroad for studies, exchange programmes, or internships. I remember a statement of an Arab scholar who says that ‘travelling to a country is like reading 1000 books in different fields’.
I am thankful to all my professors’ teaching assistants because I learned a lot from them. Thanks to them, I received deep knowledge of public policy process, human rights, international law mechanisms, foundations of public policy, research methods, and other interesting subjects. Some of the most interesting courses were Global Political Economy taught by Dr. Iftikhar Lodhi and Global Actors in Public Policy taught by Professor Nina Belyaeva.
After graduating from HSE in 2017, I earned another master’s degree in Globalization, Governance, and International Understanding from an Italian university in Rome. As my next step, I would like to do a PhD in International Relations, relying on what I learned at HSE University and also during my trainings in Europe, as well as my professional fellowship in the USA. I am currently looking at different schools to see which one will be a good fit for me.
Getting to Know the Country and the Language
My life in Moscow was amazing because I came to an environment where you can find museums, art, parks, monuments (especially at the metro stations) and get to know the typical Russian life. I like Moscow city very much because it has a very interesting history particularly when it comes to super powers during world wars. This was inspiring for me as a political science researcher.
I got to meet different experts, diplomats, politicians, members of civil society organizations, and social activists.
During the school holidays, I visited other cities which are popular tourist destinations, such as Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Tambov, Vladimir, the Volga River, and Ershovo. My Russian was bad at the beginning, but after I took Russian language classes, I was able to communicate—maybe not as well as I might have I wanted, but still.
I speak Arabic, French, and English, so it was a bit hard for me to learn Russian. When I start speaking Russian, I may include some words from the other two European languages. Also, Russian language is a bit far from the languages I know. After I came back to Morocco, I did not practice it a lot, therefore I lost many words and expressions. I really have a strong desire to resume studying Russian. I’d love to be able to use it but unfortunately I have not had the chance to yet.
Working Towards a Better World
Talking about my professional aspirations, I am planning to work with young people, helping them develop through the programme organized by my NGO Proper Thought for Development (PTD). It was founded in March 2015, right after I went to HSE’s winter school, and has been working successfully ever since. I recently received training in civic education at the Goethe Institute and Center for Applied Research in Berlin, Germany, and now my PTD team and I work on youth issues such as civic education, social and economic inclusion, and participatory citizenship.
We are eager to make a positive change among young people because they account for the majority of the society. To achieve our goals, we looked for national and international donors to raise funds for our projects. I am happy about what I am doing for the community—last year around 260 young benefited from our programmes.
Our mission is to promote education, civic engagement, and social awareness through training and exchange programmes to ensure the social development and economic prosperity of people. Our programme includes civic education training, debates, leadership skills, citizenship participation, entrepreneurship, and teaching methods and pedagogy.
PTD’s dream is to make a change for the better, taking the responsibility to promote human thought through boosting the culture of awareness, creativity, and leadership. We are eager to share our vision with many organizations, improving the skills and capabilities of young people and involving them in social development.
Everything we achieve in our life may happen due to a certain step we take, or a sudden opportunity that presents itself. For me, the first step towards boosting my skills was when I started studying at HSE University in Moscow. With this in mind, I always encourage young people to study abroad, seeking international universities that bring students from all over the world to study together, which is highly beneficial.
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