Day 11: Privet and Paca

Sitting on the tarmac in Zurich staring to transition back to American life. The impact of my trip is starting to hit me. I just spent 10 days to help empower women in Moscow and St Petersburg to help them improve practices and train mentors to work with children in Russian orphanages. As an adoptee at the age of 3 months from America, I really can’t put into words how much this trip has meant to me. On top of that, for years I have followed Russian culture, from our family exchange visit, traditions, collections, Sochi parties, working in ballet to watching 20/20 stories in the 90’s on the Russian orphanages, and gymnasts. Not only did I get to have a visit I was able to make an impact on society.
So many of my thoughts about a country were dispelled. I experienced so much love and kindness up until I left, the flight agent even helped me out. Can’t believe some of the short panic attacks I had at night before the trip or watching the faces of some of my friends as I told them I was going to Russia. As much as I preach about a healthy information diet, by St Petersburg I stopped watching the news and I continued to focus on the people. In the end, look at all the stories I have to share about the country. FIFA is just right around the corner and I am happy to be an ambassador.

As for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Anush’s goal in the next year is for one out of every four people to know about the concept of mentoring. I love her ambition because almost everyone I asked between the cab drivers, hotel staff, etc. they had no idea about this concept of social work. This work is so important yet the stability of their culture is so young and still uncertain. On friend told me, “when you are worried about making it through yourself it is hard to think a lot about others.” Corporations have some incentives to donate to NGO’s but there aren’t tax deductions for individuals. I believe creating global awareness will help the country move forward and create awareness among NGO’s.

The women of BBBS are the thought leaders, they are the revolutionist working to improve the lives of the children in the orphanages. Their dedication to the mission is beyond impressive and though I probably slept a total of 30 hours in 11 days I am left energized. I can’t wait to implement some of the ideas I have learned from both organizations. I appreciate how much time they spend in creating tests for screening of mentors and mentees. Reengaging mentors in ongoing training’s labeled master classes is an area I would like to improve on as well. Often we don’t get the numbers we hoped for winter training’s but they bring in professional psychologists, chefs and photographers to host sessions.

I can’t wait to see where my next adventure will take me.. but first I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family. My nieces are going to love all the things I brought them 🙂 Sersha and I have a goal to meet face to face in less than 2 years wherever our paths take us. I have a feeling there will be a few Eurasia Foundation grants in progress soon. My portion only allows for one trip but I am hoping some of the corporate connections I made during the trip might lead to additional opportunities in funding. In a country where communication is often closed, my experience couldn’t be a better example to tech the importance of building social capital. We joked when I did work last year in the Netherlands, I brought back tulips and stuff for my patio. This trip to Russia .. fashion and matryoshka dolls for days.

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