Written by: Anna Tkacheva (’14; Russia/CA)
Participating in the FLEX program in 2013-2014 let me not only make friends all around the world, but also helped me realize my aspirations in life. Always having been interested in international relations and world economics, I decided to devote myself to international trade and commerce and entered the MGIMO [Moscow State Institute of International Relations] University.
Being an alumna of the FLEX program, it is always exciting to take part in the events that let you represent your country and get to know people from other cultures, and SURF [Stanford US-Russia Form] seemed like an amazing opportunity for multicultural exchange and leadership and academic growth. The Stanford U.S. – Russia Forum is the only collaborative research program that allows youth from the USA and Russia work together, despite the difficulties in the US-Russia relations.
The first part of Stanford US-Russia forum’s 7th conference took place in the beginning of September 2015 in Moscow, and – as a pleasant surprise for all of the participants – continued in Tyumen, which is located in the Western part of Siberia! From September 6-12, 40 participants from Russia and the USA had a chance to discuss different topics and meet with more than 60 experts from different fields, including governmental meetings with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, United States Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, and Mr. Alexey Korjouev, Deputy Director of the North America Department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
All the delegates are divided into 10 groups, consisting of both Americans and Russians, each undertaking a collaborative research project. The research is done throughout the year by online communication between the members of the group, and areas of the research include very diverse topics from biosecurity and civil aviation to the future of Europe and entrepreneurship. The opening conference gave the delegates the chance to get to know each other, share our ideas and meet up with outstanding industry experts. While conference in Moscow gave us an amazing opportunity to understand and see what is happening in country’s most famous and innovative spheres, the trip to Tyumen helped better realize how the federative connections between Moscow and regions are set.
My research group is focused on the energy geopolitics. There are 4 people in our group. We all come from different backgrounds; however, what still unites us is the desire to try and make a positive change in the area of our professional interests. We are concentrated on the energy geopolitics with a particular focus on the power sector of Central Asia, analyzing the Central Asian potential, which is currently being squandered due to lack of infrastructure and investments. Central Asia is the region of cooperation between the Russian and American private sector. So, the group is building a business model in order to attract the U.S. and Russian private sector companies to participate in activities in the region and invest in infrastructure projects.
Although the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum is my first extensive experience doing research in the energy sector, I am eager to study energy geopolitics and the role of rational energy consumption. Right now our research project is in full swing, and we all are preparing to present it at the final conference at Stanford this April, 16-22. Who knows, maybe someday our findings will be the one shaping the cooperation between our countries and making a positive impact on the society?