About the internship
My internship took place in a NGO. The creation of this organisation stems from legal problems encountered by Russian eco-activists in the late 1990s. It had become necessary to protect the activists and provide them with legal support. And thus, to create an organization capable of protecting not only individual activists, but also the rights of citizens to live in a healthy environment and to access reliable information on their living conditions.
This NGO has a solution-oriented approach to the environmental challenges and has since 1998 had extensive cooperation with a number of companies in different industries and businesses. Their lawyers provide free legal aid to environmental activists in Russia. Approximately 200 people use this free help every year. In addition they are working on Russian nuclear issues, clean renewable energy and industrial pollution. Currently, 16 people work in their office in St. Petersburg.
During my internship, many projects were completed, including the annual eco-legal competition organized (more than 2000 law students from all regions of Russia) and a drawing competition for school children. I was also able to participate in the weekly meetings and the activities planned around the visit of two colleagues from the Oslo branch. Finally, after my departure, a major project will take place: a seminar on journalism about ecology and eco-activism. The goal of this seminar brings together experts from different European countries to improve the quality of information and journalism in this field.
It is true that the language barrier has been a problem. However, my colleagues made me feel comfortable and helped me in the first few weeks. I think that with goodwill and efforts to communicate on both sides, anything is possible. The NGO’s internal system is simple and everyone works independently on their projects. Weekly meetings allow the director to keep an eye on the evolution of the projects and everyone can propose their ideas for the future. This was particularly true during my internship as the year 2018 ended. The various team members were preparing their programs for the coming year.
My tasks were:
Prepare and write articles for the website of the NGO and international partners.
Participate in the organization’s educational project by giving lessons in English in schools in and around St Petersburg.
About life in Russia
About life in Russia, my prejudices have been clearly challenged. I absolutely did not feel the «coldness» of the Russians. On the contrary, the people I met and worked with have always been very welcoming and willing to help me in my work. My home had the charm of the old one and although communication with my landlady was not easy, she was adorable during these three months.
The city itself is beautiful and three are not enough to discover everything! I’ll definitely come back for a summer vacation. It was a very beautiful experience that I recommend to all those who are interested in the country and Russian culture.
Due to difficulties with another operator, I had the opportunity to work with Profintern. Their follow-up throughout the internship was reassuring and effective in case of problems. The supervision of the first few days allows you to be totally comfortable and to concentrate on the internship and the skills you want to develop without having to worry about practical elements (mobile phones, metro, etc.). They also provide activity and allow intern from around the world to meet in this incredible city. I would totally recommend Profintern to future interns.