Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Jay, I come from Petrozavodsk, that is a city in a north-west part of Russia. I love cycling, reading books and watching series, my favourite one at the moment is BoJack Horseman and Ted Lasso. I am a teacher of English and German by training, and I have been working in a Russian NGO Agriculture club for about 3 years. I am a transgender man and an open LGBTI+ activist.
What is your previous volunteering experience?
I started volunteering at a school for foreigners in Petrozavodsk, introducing newcomers to my hometown. After it, I started collaboration with a German organization die ijgd – I led 5 international workcamps as a team leader. I spent some time abroad as an exchange student, but when I got back home, I started working with a local NGO Agriculture club.
What kinds of projects do you do at Agriculture club?
Agriculture club is an art-community in Petrozavodsk that merges art-cluster, civil activists and citizens together. At first, I was a volunteer there, and I helped at the events. As soon as I got my ways around, I started leading my own projects – language clubs, TED-talk conferences, seminars, different formats on such topics as human rights, LGBTI+ inclusivity, feminism and masculinity. I coordinate and manage projects that are done by other members of the community. And I am one of the organizers of a big festival Barcamp, the so-called intellectual picnic that takes place in summer and unites active citizens of my region.
How did you decide to become a volunteer at e.p.a.?
I started collaborating with e.p.a. at online event Share the light, that started in the beginning of 2021. Agriculture club became one of the partners of that event, and I was the one who coordinated the partnership. I did not think about doing my ESC there until the team actually mentioned that there is an open placement, and I am more than welcome to come. Doing ESC project was on my bucket list, since I believe that volunteering is expanding one’s horizon, so I decided to do it with the organization that I already knew, especially because we have established a very friendly connection.
What are your plans for the upcoming months?
I am pretty excited to be a part of e.p.a. team and to have an opportunity to travel in pandemic when the borders to Russia are closed. I really want to refresh my German, as I have not used it for almost 2 years; I want to explore Hamburg and meet people from different backgrounds; I am interested in learning more about the work of youth NGO and participate in organization of seminars and exchanges.
I really hope the upcoming months will help me to recharge, to build meaningful connections, and to find inspiration for future projects.