When I was a first-year graduate student, I was elected to represent NEFU at the 3rd UArctic Student Forum in Winnipeg, Canada. It was my first time to attend a UArctic event and my first time in Canada. It was wintertime in Winnipeg, and it snowed a lot. Our meeting started with introduction and ice-breaking. Each university delegation delivered their presentations. Then, Pierre-André Forest (Director of Governance Support at UArctic; this is when we first met) brought a case full of presents from UArctic and told us to choose one item – I got UArctic socks. That day, the Arctic became warmer and closer, and it was fantastic to meet students from Sweden, Canada, USA, and other countries.
We devoted the other days of the Forum to discussions and work on the Student Declaration. After several days and hours of brainstorming, sleepless nights and hundreds cups of coffee, we built our declaration around four major themes: active student representation, visibility, knowledge exchange, and improved educational opportunities. We thought that UArctic should have a Student Council which would embrace student representatives of member institutions. For visibility, we suggested promoting UArctic programs locally at each university by holding an annual Day of UArctic. Knowledge exchange included lectures on native languages, traditions and land management for every exchange student. Additionally, we proposed to rebrand the north2north program to show its connection to UArctic, and another important point was to increase faculty exchange between UArctic members. The final theme was strengthening distance education by offering courses in different languages, including indigenous language courses. The other part was to provide career opportunities by establishing student internship programs in the North.
I graduated from NEFU in 2010, and after that completed a MA degree in Comparative and International Education at Lehigh University College of Education (PA, USA). Currently, I serve as the Deputy Director of NEFU’s International Relations Office, and also as the Head of the Planning and Management Department. In 2017, our office team signed an agreement with UArctic for another five years for NEFU to host the UArctic Russian Information Services. I think collaboration between UArctic and NEFU is on the rise as ever before. The longstanding partnership is based on mutual friendship, trust and support. Since the beginning of its membership, NEFU has been supporting UArctic projects and programs in the Russian northeast and beyond. Through years, we have seen the establishment of Russian Information Services at NEFU, launch of several UArctic Thematic Networks, UArctic meetings in Yakutsk, and much more.
People of the Arctic are those who contribute to the progress and development of the organization. Several individuals from NEFU have leadership or governance positions in UArctic, and UArctic has a significant role in the development of international affairs of the North-Eastern Federal University, the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and of the Russian Federation in general. I am sure that this cooperation will continue to grow strong and wide, and our team will support and serve the North and its people!
Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2017