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Regular version of the site

Volunteering: Best Buddies at HSE

Students at HSE work with the international voluntary organisation “Best buddies”, an NGO, which facilitates socialising and friendships with people who have learning difficulties. HSE student Maria Koisina told us about it.

Ksenia and Natasha
Ksenia and Natasha
Some people have very limited social contact, with just their parents, social worker-teachers and other people with disabilities. Contact with other people makes them feel more included, more a part of society. It gives them more confidence in themselves and in the future, inspires them to make progress, to develop and to have hope. Around 700,000 people in 50 different countries are involved in “Best buddies” work every year. The Moscow programme kicked-off in 2009.

Kseniya Lyubimova, a third year student at the HSE Faculty of History, is friends with Natasha Shikunova, who has learning difficulties. “We have a great time together,” says Kseniya, “We take photos of each other, mess about being silly, and dance. Natasha is very energetic and optimistic, she can’t stop for a minute. She is so active that sometimes I can’t keep up with her! Natasha is older than me, she’s a grown up and behaves like one. Sometimes she fusses over me as if I were a child. Every time, after we’ve been together, I tell myself I going to look at life as positively as she does.

Elza Yamaltdinova, third year student at the HSE Faculty of Business Informatics and president of the student club, “Best buddies at HSE” is friends with Kristina Litvinova who has been at a school for children with special needs. Elsa told us about taking part in the programme; “We’ve been friends for more than two years and each time we see each other, I’m more convinced that Kristina is a remarkable friend. We usually just go out. Kristina loves learning about Moscow, discovering new little streets and she often takes me to the sites and nice places around the capital. As I’ve only lived here for a couple of years, I love these trips and I’m finding a whole new world. We also love shopping and Kristina always picks out something very tasteful for me. She loves giving presents and at any moment, quite unexpectedly, I will get a nice surprise from her. Kristina is constantly trying to learn new things, she goes on lots of courses, and works in several different places at the same time. A lot of people would envy her lust for life.”

Elza and Kristina
Elza and Kristina
“How did I get to know the charity “Best buddies”? Well, first I went to one of its events, just as a volunteer and I didn’t even realise what kind of organisation it was. It was the first of what has become an annual dance festival and is probably the largest and most fun event for everyone involved in the project. After that I decided to join the organisation and become part of the international movement. All the people who are part of the project, the volunteers and the kids with disabilities are all so sunny and positive and socialising with them makes ordinary life seem much brighter. In spite of barriers that arise in trying to communicate with some of the kids, I’ve never had to convince myself that it is a real pleasure being with these people.”

“The “Best buddies” programmes have helped me to see that only by paying attention to other people’s problems can we change things for the better. It is so rewarding to see that the young people who, a year ago were closed and unsociable, now when they meet us, they can’t wait to tell us about their lives and they always tell us how glad they are to have us as friends. We have lots of events during the year, from the dance festival with master classes from famous Russian dancers and huge New Year’s Eve and Christmas parties, when we bake Christmas cookies, to Halloween with its traditional contests and a summer holiday camp in a hotel outside Moscow.”

“Last summer, in a small delegation from the “Best buddies, Russia” fund, I went to an international conference in the home of “Best buddies” - the US. The work “Best buddies” have been doing in the USA and Canada is amazing; in each state, many schools and colleges have their own clubs where school children and students enjoy making friends with kids with learning difficulties. Every university there has its own “Best buddies” club. After our trip we are determined to bring western experience to Russia and set up our own “Best buddies” club at HSE. We’re always glad when new people want to join our project. You can join or ask us any questions by phoning Elza on 8-916-490-63-99 or you can find us on the social networking site V Kontakte.

 

Maria Koisina, fourth year student at the HSE Faculty of Politics, especially for the HSE news portal.

See also:

Inherited Altruism: How the Family Supports the Culture of Volunteering

The main channel for transmitting the value of volunteerism in Russia is from parents to children, HSE University researchers have found. Younger generations in families begin helping others as they grow up, following the example set by their elders.

‘My FIFA Experience Has Enhanced My Professional and Personal Development’

The football world championship, held in Russia in 2018, gave students of Russian universities the opportunity to participate in the organization of one of the world’s largest international events. A student and a graduate from HSE’s master’s programme  ‘Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation’ told the news service about their experience at FIFA and how HSE helped them to work in international teams.

‘Helping Animals with the Charity Market Team, I Make the World a Little Better’

Practically all events hosted by HSE Lyceum are accompanied by a charity fair organized by the student group, Charity Market. Money made from the market is donated to the animal support fund ‘Pick up a Friend’ and to the Kozhukhovsky Shelter, with whom Lyceum students have been cooperating for several years. The HSE news team has the latest news their interesting extracurricular projects.

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New Year’s presents collected by HSE students and staff as part of the Open Your Eyes project have been delivered to special needs children at orphanages in the Tver and Vladimir regions.

Charity Drive at HSE during Good Deed Month

On March 11, 2017, HSE will host the ‘Heroes Among Us’ charity festival. The month leading up to it is Good Deed Month, organized by the Open Your Eyes student project. People are encouraged to use this month to do good. Check out the ideas below – having a big positive impact doesn’t always mean putting a lot of effort in.

Who Finances Charities

The belief that the non-profit sector is mainly supported by private donations is nothing but a myth. According to Natalia Ivanova's study Foreign Experience of Government's Impact on Philanthropy and Its Applicability in Russia, government support accounts for a substantial part of charity budgets.

HSE Becomes Member of Erasmus Student Network

HSE’s volunteer organisation, which is made up of student ‘buddies’ who help foreign students adapt to life in Russia, has become a part of the Erasmus Student Network.

HSE Academic to Be New IAVE Representative in Russia

Chief Expert of the HSE Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Non-Profit Sector (CSCSNS), Vyacheslav Ivanov, has been appointed national representative for Russia of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE).

Heroes among Us — Learn How to Be A Volunteer

Volunteering isn’t a profession it is about following your heart. If you want to help someone in need but don’t know how to begin, then come to our event at the ZIL Cultural Centre. On the 4th June, HSE student organisations are running the ‘A Hero among Us’ festival with dozens of Moscow’s student charity projects.

27%

of HSE students performed volunteer work in 2014.