Alumnus 2015: Sergei Simonov
Coordinator of the educational comic project “Respect”, “German-Russian exchange in St. Petersburg” social projects (Russian Federation)
‘Я стараюсь помочь’. (I’m doing my best to help)
What drives you in your everyday work?
Willingness to help vulnerable groups of people in Russia; a desire to establish connections between different people in Russia who in “ordinary” circumstances have almost no opportunity to meet and start communication (young graduates of orphanages – students and active youth; youth of St. Petersburg and of the North Caucasus, etc.) Unfortunately, everything is done on a small-scale level. But at least I am contributing to the improvement of the social climate on a level accessible to me (through exchange programs for 15, 20 or 25 people in the framework of the local programs in St. Petersburg).
What kind of change do you want to bring to your local level?
I try to establish horizontal links between people of different social strata and nationalities in Russia.
What idea/utopia of Europe do you wish and fight for?
My utopia is Europe of equal opportunities, a fair and social society in which people can realize their potential regardless of the amount of money they have, their origin, group affiliation (social, national, etc.). Unfortunately, Europe is moving more in the opposite direction. The gap between rich and poor is widening, not only in Russia, but also in other Eastern European and EU countries.
In your opinion, which strategies could be used by NGOs to influence the decision making in international bodies?
In my opinion, at the international level, NGOs should consistently advocate continuous and strong dialogue of all the European communities. This has a special meaning now, when the ties between states, between Russia and EU countries at the political level are increasingly disrupting. Dialogue between people should be pursued in all directions, even in the most problematic and conflictual regions of Europe. This could be the only way to solve those conflicts.
What inspired you the most about being a part of Europe Lab?
Europe Lab is a perfect platform for establishing networks between various initiatives and activists of Europe. This platform plays a significant role in strengthening or at least creating opportunities for the dialogue between representatives of different communities. In my humble opinion, it is crucial to have forums and meetings where activists with different perspectives on politics, society, etc., have an opportunity to meet. Making an attempt to hear each other is precious a priori.
Are you in contact with other Alumni and do you work/do projects together?
From time to time, I‘m in touch with the some Alumni of Europe Lab. With some Alumni of Europe Lab 2018, for instance, we were developing our project ideas (e.g. after the Europe Lab Forum in Piteşti), thought about the feasible support for the projects. We haven’t implemented our ideas into practice yet, but I hope, this will happen in the near future.