For many years, Globala Gymnasiet in Stockholm has done field studies abroad. This time they turned their eyes eastward to St. Petersburg in Russia. Emma Sandberg Andrasko, teacher at Globala gymnasiet, says they were looking for a destination to which they could travel in a more sustainable way, by train or boat for example.
– Russia is a country close to Sweden. But it nevertheless sometimes feels far away and different, especially to younger persons. With its history, we thought it would be an interesting place to visit.
The Russian partner, the Ecological and Biological Centre, is based in St. Petersburg. It is a school that teaches and conducts research in ecology and biology.
The exchange project has been running since the beginning of this semester and students from the two countries are in continuous contact with each other digitally.
– As part of their upper secondary school work, two student groups from Sweden do digital interviews with young Russian persons, on climate change and on what it means to be a young woman in Russia today, says Emma Sandberg Andrasko.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s students have not been able to visit each other. But according to Emma Sandberg Andrasko, the digital contacts have still been hugely rewarding.
– The ones who have been in contact with the Russian centre have been very enthusiastic. They have got an insight into the everyday lives of young people in Russia, and that is also valuable. The contacts open up the world to them and offer greater opportunities to understand the social context of Russian youth. It also gives them important perspectives for their theoretical studies.
Hopefully, the students from the two countries will be able to visit each other next year, probably during the spring semester.
– The idea is that a group of Swedish students will go to St. Petersburg for about two weeks in January 2023 for interviews and workshops with Russian students linked to the Ecological and Biological Centre. Later in the spring, perhaps in April 2023, a number of persons from the centre will come to Stockholm for a week.
Students from Globala gymnasiet in Stockholm have previously done field studies in India, Malawi and Nicaragua, among other countries.
Emma Sandberg Andrasko believes this means a lot to young persons.
– For many years, we have been discussing how field studies can offer unique perspectives and new understanding that is difficult to obtain in any other way. The personal contacts give them memories for life.
– We believe in meeting each other and that meetings offer unique perspectives on one’s own and others’ societies. To be given the chance to cooperate with a Russian centre that works with science and youth is rewarding for us, just as our school’s understanding of sustainability and climate change can offer other perspectives for them. We have already seen how the students’ exchange of experience with each other opens up valuable new ideas about, for example, climate change and how it inspires further learning and exploration of social issues.
On 17 March, SI will open for applications for the New Partnership Initiative: Sweden-Russia Grants Programme, which aims to strengthen international contacts between Sweden and Russia in fields that engage young people and young adults.
– I am so pleased that the new programme will enable us to continue to support valuable initiatives like this one, not only in education but in a wide range of other sectors. Make sure you check out the information on our website, says Judith Black, programme manager at the Swedish Institute.
In 2021 the Swedish Institute announced a call as part of a pilot initiative to contribute to people to people contacts between Sweden and Russia. Some six projects were awarded support one of which is the project featured in this article.
On 17 March 2022, the Swedish Institute will launch a call within a new grants programme for cooperation between Sweden and Russia. The New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) will award funding to projects carried out jointly by partners in Sweden and Russia. Projects should involve youth or young adults in both countries. They should also include professionals who work directly with young people or are responsible for policies which concern them.