Rome Adventure:
GGL Students
at the Prestigious
UNIV Congress

When you mix Rome with knowledge-sharing and education- you get a real pleasure! Three of our students Amina, Daria and Kristina, studying at the Global Governance and Leadership (GGL) programme, took part at the UNIV Congress, a prestigious international university event that takes place each year in Rome. It is a great opportunity for young individuals to share ideas, exchange knowledge, widen their horizons! This year’s theme of the Congress was “Rethinking the Future”. Our students presented themselves with very interesting topics related to the theme. The UNIV Congress also includes other activities such as: an audience with the Pope, international get-togethers, social projects, cultural and historical tours of the Eternal City. Here are their inspirational stories about this unique educational experience, the beauty of Rome and much more. They have seen lots of impressive monuments, tourist attractions, the Colosseum, the Pantheon…

Recently you came back from Italy where you attended the UNIV Congress that takes place each year in Rome. I believe it was an interesting experience for you as it is a great chance to explore new things, meet new friends and most importantly- share knowledge, new ideas, different points of view with students from all over the world. Why did you choose this event and what are your major impressions?

Kristina: Well, I’ve chosen this event because I’m really interested in international summits where people from all over the world meet each other and share not only their ideas but also their cultural aspects, their history and it’s especially unique experience as participants are coming from different countries. This forum grasped my attention as it is held in Italy, my favourite country after Russia, and because of the theme of the UNIV Congress 2018: “Rethinking the future”. I thought it would be the greatest opportunity to present my country to foreigners and show that Russia is not only about politics and scandals.

Amina: I always take every opportunity which is offered to me and the UNIV congress was not an exception. The presentation of my research paper at the congress was an incredible experience of public speaking. It was really exciting to get a feedback from the audience and to answer their questions. Also after the graduation, I was taken an interview. The skills which I gained during my studies on the GGL programme were very useful for this event, helping me to feel confident in front of the camera.

Besides, there were the sessions during which the participants in small groups could exchange their ideas on a theme of interest. For example, the issue of the high level of abortion in Russia was raised as the topic for discussion in our group. We were brainstorming to come up with the solutions to this challenge. One participant even brought a model of the embryo for us to visualize it more brightly.

I can not help mentioning that spending a week in such an international atmosphere is also a memorable experience. The representatives of different countries and cultures were so opened and friendly to each other. We have lived together and had a great chance to communicate and get closer. I highly appreciated that a tough geopolitical situation had no influence to the attitude of other countries to our Russian delegation.

Daria: As soon as I saw the theme of the Congress, I could not stop thinking about our future work and topic, which we had to take. The turning point for me was that the congress covered all fields and interests: starting from business and management and concluding with medicine and science. That’s why I was so interested in this Congress. Of course, the place where the UNIV Congress is held also played a huge role in making the decision.

I believe that the whole experience of UNIV Congress can be explained in one word: surprise. I did not expect any of those topics, which were raised. Unexpectedly, a lot of topics, which were discussed, were rather radical and particularly connected with the theme of feminism. I can definitely call it an interesting experience for me as for a future professional.

Each year a relevant aspect is chosen as the theme of the Congress. The main theme for UNIV 2018 was “Rethinking the future”. I am so excited to hear your topics for the Congress. Tell me more about it.

Daria: For us, topic “Rethinking the future” meant the future of our homeland in the way that nowadays we have various economic and political difficulties. When we were travelling, we have noticed that foreigners know practically nothing about our country except the well-known stereotypes. Thus, we decided to create a project that will help the other people from different countries to will be educated concerning the history, culture, and people of Russia. The main point of our project is to improve the image of Russia in the global arena.

Kristina: I and Daria decided to write one project as we feel comfortable to think and create something valuable together. We both are concerned about Russia’s position on the global arena and as we both love travelling, exploring new places as well as collaborating with young people from different countries, we invented the F.R.O.M. (Festival of Russian Open Minds). Before that, we conducted a survey on “Russia’s perception among foreigners”, which brought the result that people are interested to work with Russians despite the news and scandals.

Amina: My topic was “Technologies as a panacea for global economic inequality and a key to the sustainable development of the world”. The globalization, as well as the rapid development of the internet and communication technologies, have induced the widening of the digital divide with the following social and income inequality. However, the potential of technologies in contributing to the economic growth, development, and sustainability of the countries is enormous. The fruits of the information age ensure the transparency of states relation with citizens, social institutions, and commercial organizations. Moreover, the technological development leads to the emergence of the global networked economy, which creates new pathways to innovation. Although the digitalization brings a wide range of opportunities, this process also implies several challenges, where the absence of inclusiveness is the biggest one. This results in missing markets. Thus, it is important to enhance global partnership and rise the financial support to advance the policy action directed on technology transfer and on the preservation of the knowledge-based course.

To my mind, this topic is virtually up to date and thought-provoking. I hope that with my work I brought the inspiration for the further discussions in the technological area, which will bring our human development to a new stage.

I must say you all have made such an interesting choice! Amina, your topic is really engaging. The impact of technology on our lives is enormous. It shaped the development of many industries, and if we want to measure the effect of high-tech in different sectors, it might be difficult because it is still changing and advancing each day- it’s amazing! In your topic, you refer to technologies as a panacea for the global economy and a key factor for a sustainable development of the world. Please, tell us how do you think technologies can shape up the future of the global economy in a better way?

Amina: Doubtless, running a business can be seen as the process of transforming resources into economic value, where knowledge is perceived as one of the most important resources. The barriers to access the markets for entrepreneurs with small businesses are still high, and they bring drawbacks not only for these individuals and their families but for the economy as a whole. The information technologies can help to diminish this isolation and provide the necessary knowledge of the market and of the prices in particular. It is significantly essential to connect these producers with markets to pave a path out of poverty.

Another aspect is that the forms of relationships between citizens and state institutions are changing in the information society. Even today many functions of government and municipal institutions are effectively implemented through the Internet. To crown it all, the modern telecommunication technologies can also help in the fight against corruption by contributing to the creation of the most transparent state relationships with commercial entities.

Undoubtedly, the scientific and technological progress is inconceivable without the use of computer systems. The fact is that the majority of the patents are implemented in specific goods and services. Consequently, the activity of the inventors is one of the main indicators of economic development of modern society. However, it is impossible to navigate in the sea of patent information without computers as for inventors working on their own as for transnational corporations. What is more, the Internet allows talented inventors to find people who are able to transform their creative ideas into new products and services. Hereby, scientific and technological progress is directly linked to the rate of accumulation of knowledge and the ability to use it for specific tasks. Eventually, technological advances bear economic benefits.

Russia and the world is a very actual theme. Presenting such topic at the Congress and through the lens of our two Russian students, Kristina and Daria must have been very interesting for all the participants! What are the ways you suggest that would be most effective for sharing the country’s vision, Russian culture and traditions?

Kristina: We suggested the Festival format because this gives an opportunity for people to choose what area they are interested by themselves. Our Festival has consisted of 5 main sectors: “Cuisine”, “Literature and art”, “Business startups”, “History” and “Speakers”. Thus, we present Russia from various angles. The major goal is to show that people all over the world have the same mindset in terms of future development.

Daria: To share country’s vision, our country should be presented at international events, debates. The presence of such events, on the same level with the other international “players”, is really important. After we accomplish this, we can represent and promote our country internationally.

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Was this your first visit to Rome or you have been there before? The Eternal City, ancient beauty. What made the biggest impression on you? Hope you had the time for a city sightseeing.

Kristina: It was not my first visit to Rome, I’ve already been there a couple of times. However, this trip opened a new area of Rome to me as the Festival was held in the suburb zone. We enjoyed the fresh air and nice view. I think that this day was the most impressive for me as I visited only the centre of Rome before.

Amina: Actually it was my second visit to Rome. However, it was a long time ago, when I had been there last.

We had an intense cultural program, which included numerous visits to basils and ancient sites. As far as thiCongressss is closely connected to the Catholic community, the organizers provided us with the tickets for the audience with Pope Francis and to the Easter mass in St Peter’s Basilica. These events were very impressive and beautiful.

I would also like to note Villa Borghese, which was such a lovely place. I enjoyed walking there especially next to the lake with the ducks and geese. From the lookout point of Villa Borghese, I have seen one of the most beautiful sunsets in my life! Another place which will remain etched in my memory is the Mouth of truth, which I have known before from the film “Roman holiday” starring Audrey Hepburn. Next to this historical monument is located the Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin, where the skull of the world-famous St. Valentine can be found. In addition, it was great to look at the Colosseum at night and in the daylight. I have got completely different impressions. Lastly, I would highlight the breathtaking view from the dome of St Peter’s Basilica.

Daria: This was my second time in Rome. After every visit to Italy, I become more and more affected by this marvellous country and its people. I think that I cannot distinguish my particular favourite place in Rome, because I am always amazed by the Italian atmosphere of small streets, colourful houses, cosy restaurants and greatness of cathedrals and churches. Rome is the city where I can return again and again and will be surprised anyway.

Is there any interesting/fun adventure that you would like to share with us from the time you spend there?

Amina: Once I went downstairs for Cola (it was midnight, but I badly needed it ha-ha-ha) and occasionally appeared on the birthday celebration of one UNIV participant from Spain. We sang a congratulatory song for her with some dancing elements. It was so much fun. However, I have not known any of these girls before.

Another story is about the audience with Pope. He turned out to be a humorous man. When the girl from our delegation (originated in Costa Rica) told the Pope that now she lives in Moscow, he advised her to go easy on Vodka.

Daria: If we had only one adventure, it would not be the trip of GGL students:) Every day spent there was so fun, exciting and full of emotions and memories that I will cherish for a very long time. I am really thankful for that experience!

Kristina: The whole trip was an adventure. Beginning from the Sheremetyevo airport and ending there as well. I cannot name the only moment because there were thousands of them.

I must ask — pizza or pasta? Did you like the Italian cuisine?

Daria: Italian cuisine is a separate masterpiece, which can be discussed endlessly. When you visit a new place, restaurant, café, you open Italy from another side. So we definitely have tasted different kinds of Italy during this trip.

Kristina: Definitely pizza! And not in the restaurant, but in little cafes where the owner cooks by himself and the pizza is made from the heart.

Amina: Guess this question is the toughest one. I love both pizza and pasta. However, maybe I would give my preference more to pizza. Italian cuisine is my favourite one. It is so delicious!!! The food can already be a strong reason to return to this country again.

Did you manage to find the time to visit other cities in Italy?

Amina: During this trip, we have visited another two cities Ostia Antica and Lido di Ostia. Ostia Antica is rich for ancient sites. I would describe this city as romantic and enigmatic in some way. Lido di Ostia is situated on the seaside that is the reason why we have gone there. A beautiful landscape of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the beach full of rose seashells are worth seeing!

Now, when you sum it up, the whole experience, would you do it again? Do you recommend other students to take part in such educational events abroad? If yes, what is the main reason/benefit?

Amina: Without any hesitations, I would repeat this trip to Rome. This city is must visit. What makes any travel more exciting? Undoubtedly, the new acquaintances and experiences! All this could offer the participation in the UNIV Congress. I definitely recommend students to take part in such educational events to broaden their minds from the perspective of another culture, to rethink various aspects even in their daily life and to obtain a new clear vision of the modern world as it is.

Daria: I certainly recommend other students to take part in such forums, schools and events, because no matter what this event will be connected with, it will give you certain professional experience. It will develop your skills which will help you as a future leader.

Kristina: Of course, the international experience is an essential part of education, especially as a GGL student. Modern world insists on a global perspective in each sphere, therefore, students need to visit as many countries as they can and meet people from overseas to share views.

Our School is very proud of you as GGL students and we are more than happy when we see the way our students are moving forward through the educational process. We are always here to support your great enthusiasm and development as young global leaders. Thank you very much for this interview and we wish you luck and a lot of success in the future.

Kristina: We want to express our gratitude to ISS and GGL administration for giving us such an opportunity to participate in the UNIV Congress and to spend a week in the sunny Rome. It is an unforgettable experience and we learnt a lot from this trip. Thanks to our University for making students more prepared for the future and for opening horizons on the global arena. RANEPA and particularly ISS and GGL, do a thing that not many universities do for their students.

Amina: I am very grateful for the opportunities of travelling abroad, which offers the Institute of Social Sciences. It is glorious that we have such a developed system of integration of students into the international activities. I am proud to study here!

Daria: We are grateful for such an opportunity. It is amazing that our Academy supports our wish to develop and grow professionally with help of such international events. It’s a rare experience when universities help students in expanding their minds abroad, so we are really lucky. Thank you a lot for the interview!

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