Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 48 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we bring you the story of Marina, a beautiful and responsible activist from Russia.
Marina has been a part of the Roots since 2012. Her journey is long and very special. Marina’s university selection was not a real choice of her profession, as she’s used to say. She never knew exactly what she should have studied or where she wanted to go. But Marina always had a desire to be involved in the international sphere.
“I didn’t know what else I could do except studying to be a translator or a politician. I did not want either of them, and I chose Financial University with a specialization in Taxation. My university gave me a lot in terms of how our society is organized and functions, but from the very beginning, I knew that I would never connect my work just with finances or just with taxation. I completed my Master’s at the same university with a specialization in Economic Sociology and had an exchange program in Spain” Marina tells.
Upon return, Marina decided to search for a job in the field of international education, and soon together with her friend they opened a small agency to help Russian students to choose and apply to foreign universities. Now she is working as a Project Manager at the Dutch NGO support office in Russia. One of her biggest projects is organizing Dutch language courses.
“I’ve been doing voluntary work in the YMCA since I remember myself. Participating and organizing, locally and globally. YMCA has become my second family. Having experienced it, I am eager to share the story as much and wide as possible and to support others to become a part of it. So now I volunteer as a board member in the Russian YMCA and as an Assessor in YMCA Europe Executive Committee” says Marina.
Before Roots, Marina already had been engaged in peace work. And again – in the YMCA framework. One of her first international experiences was the “Jornada para la Paz” event organized by YMCA Spain and Juan Simoes Iglesias back in 2009.
“That was a great event with young participants from a number of countries (Spain, Italy, Russia, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, etc) and it completely changed my understanding of this world and the view on other people and other countries. And I guess because of that I was that much happy to join the Roots.”
Marina is used to saying that Roots has a great impact on her life.
“I think it just helped me to be who I am. All those years spent together, smiles and tears, sharing our thoughts, feelings and beliefs, new real friends, new worries and joys – it all made me think more, feel deeper and love broader. A new feeling that was never known to me before: a real sense of myself being a part of the bigger world. In this aspect, I very much love the Ubuntu philosophy that Nelson Mandela spoke a lot about. “I am because we are” – shares Marina.
Speaking about unforgettable moments during her experience in the Roots, she singled out three:
- The song of Russian singer Grigoriy Leps “The best day” (“Самый лучший день” in Russian) under the stars and the youngsters’ unity in Karabakh.
- Toledo, sitting in front of the synagogue with Russian, Georgian and Turkish participants. Toledo with such a pure love and pure feelings.
- Program Festival “ProFest” at Camp Orange in Georgia, with all its synergy and togetherness – when Ukrainians were singing “Обійми мене” along the music rhymes performed by Armenian & Georgian participants, and us, Russians stood there side by side with Americans with tears in our eyes… It was such a strong sensation shared by everyone there”.
Marina would recommend young people from conflict regions to take part in the project without hesitation, as she wishes more people to live this experience and open up a new world with it – describing Roots with 3 words: “Feelings, life-long experience, responsibility.”
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!