HSE Students Engaged in Social Volunteerism at Orphanages
In February 2013, students of the Higher School of Economics launched the King Matt Academy with the aim of providing learning assistance to orphaned children. Master’s degree student Vladimir Korshakov of the HSE’s Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, who spearheads the project, recently gave us an interview.
— Vladimir, how did the idea of the King Matt Academy come about? Where did the name come from?
— King Matt is a child character in a children's novel by Polish children’s pedagogue and author Janusz Korczak, and this child had to solve adult problems. The main idea of the project is to help orphaned children prepare for the Unified State Examination and the State Final Certification (final high school examinations). We are not going to re-educate anyone; we just want to do something so that children from orphanages have alternatives in their choice of educational institutions: not only a college or a professional technical school but also a university. I got this idea because I know what it means to prepare for entrance to a prestigious university without parental support. I shared my idea with my friends; they all considered it to be worthy, and we decided to go for it. When we contacted Orphanage No. 5, it was receptive to our idea, and we are now negotiating with several other orphanages.
— Who is on the project team? Can anyone else join in?
— Eight people are now working on the project, and almost all of them are HSE students or graduates. Also, we have a professional psychologist, Marina Kovalevskaya, and she carries out psychological work with the children and volunteers. Currently, each volunteer teaches several hours a week. Ideally, the load per volunteer should be two hours a week.
— We are in the process of recruiting volunteers among HSE students, but we would be glad to attract people from other universities. We are in great need of tutors in Russian language and literature since there are no philologists among us, but other specialists (for example, in chemistry and geography) will also be in demand.
— How do the children in the orphanages react to having such young teachers?
— Right now we have six students at Orphanage No. 5: four ninth-graders and two tenth-graders, and we work with them on four disciplines—mathematics, social studies, Russian, and English. My impression is that the children are more inclined to communicate with us than with their regular teachers.
— In your experience, what future does social volunteerism have in Russia with regards to providing this kind of tutoring assistance?
— It is difficult for me to talk about the whole of Russia, but we have some perspective on what is going on in Moscow and the Moscow region. Here, some social volunteerism projects focused on children in non-Moscow orphanages are in development. For example, the Bolshaya Peremena (Big Change) Foundation and the Khrum Project teach children from several regions of European Russia via Skype. But, although the material level of Moscow orphanages is high, children lack simple human interaction; they exist in a closed world, and the opportunity to communicate with students is one way for the children to receive primary socialization in our society.
Liudmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.