The Challenging Project for International Team in Russia
The HSE and Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA), USA had undertaken a joint project Russia in 2012-2013. Graduate students in the CIPA project had the option of building upon and expanding their experience through consultancy projects conducted through CIPA’S International Capstone Initiative. The international team of students and professors had been working in HSE N. Novgorod on Vyksa Renewal Plan. Vyksa is the small town not far from N. Novgorod. The project was implemented with support of the HSE Graduate School of Education. Laurie J.Miller, professor and CIPA Coordinator gave a special interview to the HSE news service about the project.
— How did your cooperation with the HSE start?
The cooperation began when Larisa Taradina, Deputy Head from the HSE Office for International Development: visited Cornell University in 2010 within Fulbright Fellowship. We discussed the Capstone and service learning class at Cornell’s Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA). In these classes, students conduct pro bono consulting projects for nonprofit and government organizations. Through these projects, students produce research to solve a real-life problem faced by these agencies. Students learn about the problem, and how agencies function, through their research.
— What were the criteria for your project? Why did you choose N. Novgorod campus and a small city of Vyksa?
— The criteria for projects include: a client who would like to work with students and a problem that is within the realm of public affairs. In the case of N. Novgorod, HSE students and faculty were interested in working with officials from the City of Vyksa to find ways to address environmental concerns, develop new business and economic development strategies, improve health care, and expand and support the education system there, all to encourage talented young people to stay in Vyksa. CIPA students were studying environmental, economic development, health care, and education policy. They were interested in learning more about models and programs in Russia, and welcomed the chance to work with students from HSE.
— Each mutual project is a cross-fertilizing process. What was useful for you as a researcher in Russia?
— Working with faculty and students at HSE and the representatives from Vyksa from each area – environment, education, health care, and economic development – to really be able to understand how policies are developed and implemented in Vyksa, was extremely useful. For my students, being able to work with students from HSE to understand the different cultural context of Russia and N Novgorod was critical. This allowed the HSE and CIPA students to together propose recommendations for Vyksa.
— You've been meeting with NGO community in Russia and sharing your experience in fundraising. HSE students are actively involved in different charitable and volunteers foundations. What would be your main message to them regarding fundraising and sustainability?
— No matter where they live, students who volunteer or work with charitable organizations want to know that their work makes a difference. So it’s very important that students can show the results of the fundraising and volunteering -they need to show how the funding and time is being used. Students can offer to bring people to the hospitals or orphanages to volunteer, or take videos to show the students back at HSE. Staff at the organizations can visit HSE and talk about the ways students have made a difference to their programs.
To make their efforts sustainable, student groups can develop roles and responsibilities for themselves. For example, one student could be in charge of coordinating volunteering opportunities with the charitable organizations, one could be asking for donations from students, another student could be working to account for those funds, another student could be communicating with other students and about the volunteering activities and events to come. These roles and responsibilities need to be well-defined so other students can take on responsibilities in the coming years.
— How could you evaluate the cooperation with HSE? Are there any plans for future projects? How about student exchange?
My students and I were very pleased with the cooperation with HSE. The CIPA students who traveled to Russia found the HSE team to be extremely warm, welcoming and accommodating, and eager to exchange ideas. The project itself was challenging for the CIPA students and they gained more insights working with students at HSE and in Russia than they would have if they had only worked remotely in the United States. We hope to continue with another project and foster the exchange of ideas between students. I know that some of our students are interested in learning more about studying at HSE, and HSE students are always welcome to visit us at Cornell.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service