Since 2005, the Chechnya Advocacy Network has run a distance mentoring program for young people in the North Caucasus region of Russia, our Opportunity Initiative (http://www.chechnyaadvocacy.org/opportunities.testimony.html. The rationale for this was and is that young people from this region are marginalized by armed conflict, displacement, human rights violations, the shortcomings of local schools and universities, conservative and patriarchal attitudes in their communities and many layers of discrimination and deprivation. As a result, they find it difficult to access global opportunities for education, professional development and personal growth, even if they are talented, hard-working and ambitious. The support of our volunteer mentors gives them a leg up and helps them compete successfully for scholarships, exchanges and other chances for learning and growth. Our alumni – human rights lawyers, non-profit managers, journalists, governance experts etc. – have all returned home and have gone on to play leading roles in their communities.
One female graduate of a top US master's program on public policy has this to say about her experience: "When I look at pictures from my time in graduate school, I noticed that I have this big smile in every one of them. I realize now why this is. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who were all like me, who love to learn, who are passionate about their calling."
In more than a decade, much has changed in the North Caucasus, some of it for the better, some for the worse. Today's young people have spent most or all of their lives after the end of major warfare, socio-economic conditions improved. But the region has also become more isolationist, authoritarian and conservative, and young people (young women especially) face a whole new set of hurdles as they fight to realize their dreams. The Opportunities Initiative continues. Our mentors consider it one of the best ways to get an inside understanding of the communities from which our candidates hail and their struggles.
We are currently looking for new volunteer mentors who are interested in helping the best and the brightest of today's Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and beyond. Mentors should:
- Speak English at a native or professionally fluent level
- Have advanced degrees or be enrolled in a graduate program right now (any field is fine, but we especially need lawyers/law students)
- Have some experience with applying to competitive scholarship and other merit-based competitions
- Have an interest in post-conflict development, youth and women's empowerment, human rights, traditional societies coping with globalization, the former Soviet Union etc.
- Have a few hours a week to spare, for a few weeks, whenever you are matched with a candidate
If you are interested, please send your biography or resume, with a short cover letter explaining why you would like to be an Opportunities Initiative Mentor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This volunteer opportunity can be performed from a remote location.
- New York, NY, US
Start and end dates:no
Duration:3 months or longer
Time commitment:Occasional (weekly or monthly)
Times of day:Mornings Afternoons Evenings Late nights
Days of week:Weekdays Weekends
Extra details:Training provided
International volunteer options:International volunteers welcome