The Fifth Russia-ASEAN Youth Summit took place in Manila, the Philippines, from November 26th – 30th, 2019. The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, met with the participants of this international event, which was organized by the National Youth Committee with the support of the MGIMO ASEAN Centre. Vladislav Belovitsky, first-year student of Software Engineering at the HSE Faculty of Computer Science, attended the event as part of the Russian delegation, through winning an English-language essay competition.
How has a software engineering student manage to participate in an event for people involved in political science and Asian studies, who study ASEAN countries?
Software Engineering is my vocation and profession, while Asian studies have long been my hobby. I have visited Thailand several times, as well as Cambodia and China, and have always dreamt of going to Singapore and Indonesia. I read about this region a lot; I am interested in the news, the politics, the innovations and the ecology of this area. In 2017, I defended a degree at the HSE School of Young Asia Researchers.
When I saw an announcement for an essay competition on ‘Russia-ASEAN Strategic Partnership’ on the MGIMO ASEAN Centre website, I applied immediately. In my paper, I focused on the necessity of expanding the partnership between our countries in IT, including education for software developers, experience exchange, and joint hackathons.
The essay received a high grade from the jury, and I was lucky enough to become part of a brilliant team. The organizers invited young people from various Russian cities, students and graduates of MGIMO, MSU, SPbSU, the Far Eastern State and the Krym State universities, as well as young professionals from the Russian Association of Lawyers and the Association of Volunteer Organizations. During the week that I spent with them I got lots of experience in international communication and leadership, for which I am very grateful to my peers.
How was the international communication with the summit participants organized?
The youth summit is a thrilling and intense event. Almost every minute of both official events and personal meetings is filled with communication. We had a thoroughly planned itinerary: the grand opening ceremony, an exhibition of local goods from each country, plenary discussions on Education, Culture, and Economics, Trade & Business, followed by preparation and approval of the summit declaration, a wreath-laying ceremony, and a gala dinner with an incredible show by young Philippine dancers and singers.
Delegations from the Philippines and Russia were the most numerous, but everyone was trying to represent their countries in the most active and colourful way. For example, I brought a samovar with chocolates as a New Year gift, and Galina Salnikova, my peer from FESU, was speaking about it so engagingly that it appeared in almost all of the photos taken by our international friends.
Which of the questions raised in your essay did you manage to bring up at international level?
Before going to the youth summit, I met my colleagues here at HSE University, in order to better formulate ideas on developing international partnership in IT. We discussed the options of innovations for ‘smart’ cities, the relevance and technical specifications for a social network for Russia and ASEAN countries, and the opportunity to create network universities and develop academic mobility programmes. We mentioned that the Erasmus programme has been active in Europe for over 30 years, and allows students be more mobile internationally and engage not only in long-term, but short-term educational programmes as well.
At the summit, the issue of student academic mobility was actively discussed at a plenary session ‘Russian-ASEAN Cooperation: Education’, particularly, in reports by Russian and Singaporean delegates. On the following day, I co-chaired a workshop on this topic.
One of my ideas was to organize joint hackathons for programmers from Russia and ASEAN countries. This form of short-term competition is very useful for meeting people from different countries and solving relevant business cases. When a company is looking for an optimal IT solution, a team from another country can always look at the problem from a different angle, and often suggest something more innovative and technologically interesting than the local developers. Experience exchange is more intensive; cultural and technical communication is established; unconventional business ideas are brought up.
Did you get support from the international participants?
The final draft of the declaration, which we have approved together with the international peers, included recommendations on reinforcing cooperation between universities and research institutions in terms of joint projects and professional exchange programmes. We emphasized the need to develop and improve technical education as one of the foundations of contemporary professional education.
If we want to develop partnership between our countries and involve the professional community of software developers, we have to be more active in sharing knowledge about hackathons with other participants of the international dialogue, including through social media. Creating mobile apps, various services, banking products, and the use of artificial intelligence are very relevant areas where young developers can express their talents in the most brilliant way.
Were there any young programmers from other countries at the summit?
I met Muhammad Zaki, a system analyst at OCBC Bank Singapore, as well as software engineers from Singapore and Thailand.
We agreed that any contemporary society, regardless of the country’s geography, natural resources, cultural traditions and religion, needs well-educated programmers, since information technology has deeply penetrated all spheres of life and the economy. It is essential to discuss the issues of contemporary programming education with young people particularly, since today people come to our profession when they are still studying at school.
Russia’s leading universities have a huge potential to teach international students in such areas as Software Engineering, Applied Mathematics & Information Science, as well as many others. Developing strategic cooperation between Russia and ASEAN countries will help build closer ties in this area, and foster experience exchange, as well as creating joint programmes between particular universities and launching short-term academic mobility programmes.
Elaboration of these issues depends on the universities’ initiatives on their work with international students. All the summit participants who I managed to talk to about this said that they believe Russian technical education to be one of the best in the world.
Which of the impressions from the summit might you call the strongest one?
On November 29th, we were invited by President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte to his residence. I believe that every one of us will remember the warm and friendly atmosphere of this meeting for the rest of our lives.
On the same day, in the morning, we went on an excursion to the medieval area of Manila, Intramuros. Then, we visited the University of the Philippines Diliman and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.
And finally, my strongest impression of the summit was the feeling of friendship, warmth, kindness, mutual help, and hope for expanding cooperation. I met a lot of new friends from ASEAN countries. We are ready to develop joint projects, to help each other in the search for new ideas and to foster professional communication, and in short, to build closer relations between our countries in various areas of economics and life.