My name is Julia Kurganovich. Originally I come from Minsk, Belarus. There I finished a regular grammar school in the outskirts of Minsk, received the government merit-based scholarship to study at Belarusian State University and 2 years ago I was lucky to be among 20 students from CIS countries to participate in Swedish Government Grant programme, which coved bachelor studies tuition fee at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.
Being a second-year student at SSE Riga this year I became one of the three students to go for exchange semester at City University of Hong Kong. Most competitive economy in the world, studies among students from world top universities, truly international and mind-altering experience - sounds great to anyone. Yet, the exchange programme in Hong Kong does not provide any financial support, leaving the opportunity limited to a few students.
Many people think that this is how it should be. Yet... I have never stopped on my way to the life I strive for, just because I could not afford certain expenses. I deeply believe that money is just a tool that enables us reaching a certain level, rather than determines how far we could go.
This time the costs are way above my capabilities. With my two summer jobs – paid summer internship in Riga and distant project work in Minsk, Swedish Grant scholarship, support from Leif Muten Society at SSE Riga and potential remote, due to student visa restrictions, project work in Hong Kong, I will to manage to cover visa, travel and living expenses amounting to 2000 EUR out of 4000 EUR needed. Thus, still lacking 2000 EUR to pay for accommodation. Being a Belarusian living in Latvia means that I am not eligible to take loan in either of the countries. That is why crowdfunding is my last resort, as those 2000 EUR are crucial to make the exchange semester possible.
Here are the costs associated with the exchange semester:
1. Visa and documents related expenses - 75 EUR (covered by LMS)
2. Travel - 700 EUR (covered by LMS and myself)
3. Accommodation - 2000 EUR (500 EUR/month) (need your help!)
4. Living expenses - min 1200 EUR (300 EUR/month) (covered by myself)
2000 EUR is 2000 people donating 1 EUR. It's one half of the morning coffee in the bar for 0.1% of all the people living in Minsk or 0.3% of the population of Riga. Seems small. Yet, the success of my campaign will become the example to many young Belarusians, who choose not to participate in the international events or travel, because they cannot manage it financially or their parents cannot afford to sponsor them.
I hope that the society can pitch in for me and I will pitch in at a later date when I can. When it comes to me, I have always been involved with non-profit projects – I volunteered for 2 months in Italy as an English teacher at school, last year I served as a board member for finance in EYP Belarus and Organizing Committee President for Outgoing Exchange in AIESEC Belarus and I am continuously joining new smaller yet significant initiatives.
During my exchange semester I am going to update regularly my blog, sharing my international studies experience. Upon my arrival back I am open to participate in experience sharing events in both Latvia and Belarus, as well as organize the events on my own – spreading the word about unlimited possibilities for young people. After I graduate in June 2017, I will be donating 80 EUR for 25 months from my monthly salary to charity projects in Belarus, or to a project of the choice of the donor, to pay back to the world for the opportunity that I might have the privilege to experience.
In the end, it is you and me who determine how far we can go! Changing one life, we trigger the domino of changes around us.