Global Talents: Mission Accomplished
Any social project has a certain life cycle. It should be carried out at the moment when it is most valuable and necessary for society. Thus, the Global Talents all-Russian web-portal of supplementary education was created 7 years ago. The project has become a free open platform for the development of the creative and intellectual potential of schoolchildren from all regions of Russia, including remote ones. Today, the website’s team completes its work with all the tasks and goals achieved and expresses its gratitude to all the project participants.
Head of the Global Talents all-Russian web-portal of supplementary education
For seven years, the Global Talents web-portal was operated by more than one hundred volunteers, lecturers and students of the Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies (IGUMO) and the International College for Arts and Communication (MKIK), in a non-stop regime. They all did an incredible job: every day they developed the ideas of contests and intellectual marathons, checked the completed tasks, delivered webinars, communicated with users, and took part in the organisation of offline events.
Over the years of the project’s development, 430 contests have taken place on the Global Talents website, more than 1200 winners have been awarded, and 3300 prize-winning works have been selected from 50 thousand essays, drawings, photos, and videos sent to us. The Global Talents users created 815 original blogs where they shared useful information, knowledge, and experience with their like-minders. The web-portal has brought together 30 thousand schoolchildren from all regions of Russia.
Marina Volynkina, Head of the Global Talents project, summed up the results of the huge work done and shared the main achievements of the web-portal.
The Global Talents web-portal was created with a goal to identify talented Russian schoolchildren and develop their potential. Contests and intellectual marathons are among the main formats of the website’s activities.
Already during the first months of the project’s existence, the organising committee clearly understood: schoolchildren really needed such a platform. Boys and girls from different regions of Russia actively participated in the contests. They wrote essays, created illustrations for books, came up with their own draft laws, formulated questions they would like to ask the President of Russia, conducted virtual tours of their home towns for foreign tourists, tried themselves as web designers, and shot conceptual videos.
Thanks to career guidance competitions, the school students managed to try out various professions: journalism, directing, design, translation, photography, and psychology. That made it easier for them to choose the career field when entering a university.
A series of online contests also presupposed the practical fulfilment of schoolchildren’s talents. For example, the Global Talents conducted contests dedicated to intellectual property protection jointly with the Moscow State Law Academy and the Intellectual Property Rights Court.
The schoolchildren were particularly inspired by the format of contests. Those were not ‘dry’ exercises but cases making it possible to address concrete tasks. For example, within one of the contests, the participants acted as lawyers of fairy-tale characters.
Thanks to taking part in the contests, the young talents managed to not only develop certain skills and acquire new knowledge but also formulate specific life guidelines and bring up valuable personality traits within themselves. The Global Talents users reflected on the significance of family and the relationship between parents and children within creative and intellectual tasks. On the eve of Mother’s Day, the young talents prepared gifts and congratulations for their mothers. The children not only made pleasant surprises for their dearest person but also learnt to show their feelings, to express their love and care in words and actions.
The organisers paid special attention to cultural values and intercultural communication. The schoolchildren drew the architecture of different cities and countries, composed poems and songs in different languages, told foreigners about Russian traditions, and studied with interest the traditions of other cultures.
As noted by the Global Talents users, they see the modern world as infinite and incredibly diverse. They sincerely dream of finding friends on all continents in order to ‘hold hands’ and ‘embrace the globe’.
The Russian Movement of Schoolchildren became the partner of the Global Talents project. A number of patriotic contests were carried out jointly with it. The winners and laureates were invited to Red Square, where many entertainment and educational events, workshops, and interactive programmes took place as part of the Spasskaya Tower for Children project.
The essay contest titled Russia Aspiring to the Future became another significant step in the project’s development. The Global Talents organising committee came up with the idea during an open lesson for schoolchildren from all over the country held in Yaroslavl by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation.
The President invited the students to think about the future of Russia in a few decades. The management of the web-portal supported the idea and the Global Talents team promptly developed an original contest task. It attracted the attention of children with a variety of interests, hobbies, and creative abilities.
The extent of the Russia Aspiring to the Future intellectual contest and its importance for the young generation was clearly seen from the number of participants. Over 2500 essays were submitted for the contest and 100 of them were included in a specially published collection.
It is important to make sure that children learn to love and appreciate the space they live in. Then they will understand from an early age that they can use their talents for the benefit of their home city, country, and people around them.
The topic of deep and conscious patriotism found its reflection in the key concept of the Global Talents project. The winners of every contest year had an opportunity to take part in the Patrium Summer School for free and visit Moscow. The Global Talents team prepared a rich cultural and educational programme for the participants. The awarding ceremony at the Federation Council awaited the schoolchildren. They met interesting people and recognised experts in art, culture, ecology, communication, and other fields. The participants also visited guided tours of the Zaryadye Park and an ice cream factory, communicated a lot with one another, and found new friends from different cities. Special lectures and workshops for parents accompanying their children also took place.
According to many participants, they visited Moscow for the first time thanks to the Patrium Summer School. They thanked the Global Talents team for all the opportunities given by the web-portal. These sincere words and happy eyes of children continue to warm our hearts and inspire the website’s team to this day.
Friends of Global Talents
To make it possible for schoolchildren from all over Russia to fulfil their potential and discover all facets of their talent, the Global Talents team regularly generated new ideas. It developed and held unique intellectual competitions in various areas. The Global Talents portal developed even more rapidly and opened an increasing number of new opportunities for its users thanks to cooperation with scientists, cultural figures, senators, sportsmen, and leaders of socially important projects.
Famous people from various professional fields supported the project by taking part in contests, lectures, and workshops.
Irina Slutskaya, outstanding Russian figure skater, two-time Olympic medalist, and Honoured Master of Sports of Russia, launched a contest for the most active schoolchildren on the online platform. She found it important to involve children in sports, instil a healthy lifestyle in them, and guide them by the example of professional athletes able to overcome any obstacles.
The Global Talents started to collaborate with Tatyana Tur in developing children’s musical talents. Tatyana Tur is the founder and CEO of Sound Media Kids creative school and a music producer who worked with Polina Gagarina. The expert launched two interesting contests on the Global Talents web-portal. She also proposed to reward the winners not only with gifts but also with a chance to go on a creative tour. Moreover, The Voice Kids Russia finalist Maria Panyukova was on the jury of the My Favourite Children’s Song music contest.
Friendship with true legends that have left their imprint on Russian history is a great honour for the project.
Raphael Kleiner whose voice can be heard on Red Square on Victory Day, in the Philharmonic Hall, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and the Russian Academy of Sciences came to personally congratulate the winners of the essay contest dedicated to the memory of the Great Patriotic War. In honour of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory, he read letters and poems by front-line poets many of whom died in the battle. That gave winners and prize winners a full range of emotions.
The jury of the Letters of Victory competition was chaired by Vasily Lanovoy, People’s Artist of the USSR. Many Russians know him thanks to his role in the Soviet film titled Officers. The actor took part in more than a hundred projects including films and theatrical productions. Together with the management of the Global Talents, Vasily Lanovoy spoke on the results of the contest at a press conference at the National News Service. He personally presented awards to the winners during the ceremony.
Active involvement, talent, and sincerity of Russian schoolchildren impressed all those present. The Global Talents had many new friends not only in Russia but also abroad.
The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Moscow became one of the permanent friends of the project. It supported the launch of a series of contests on Czech culture and Czech-Russian cooperation and welcomed the winners in its walls. Ambassador Vladimír Remek personally handed out the awards to the schoolchildren. There was also a contest dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and India. On that occasion, the contest winners visited the Embassy of India in Moscow. They received their awards from the hands of Jeysundhar D., Director of Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre in Moscow. Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda in the Russian Federation, supported the idea of launching an essay contest on the topic Discovering Rwanda. Thanks to that, schoolchildren learned about the cultural features, history, population, nature, and art of this African country.
Karin van Mourik, Board Member of the Association of German Women Entrepreneurs, commissioner for international relations, and FCEM World Secretary General, decided to deliver the German Lacunae contest together with the Global Talents. That made it possible for children to try themselves as real linguists and have a lot of fun.
In fact, the geography of the Global Talents went beyond the Earth. Its users literally ‘went into orbit’ with their questions to astronauts within the Starry Future contest for young journalists. Anton Shkaplerov answered the best questions right from the spaceship. Another cosmonaut named Fyodor Yurchikhin and two young jury members and presenters of the Time to Go to Space programme on Karusel TV channel named Egor Klinaev and Ekaterina Filyugina were invited to evaluate the professionalism of the contestants.
The web-portal has also received great support from many governmental and non-profit organisations that highly appreciated the idea and values of the Global Talents project.
The portal’s activities interested Ludmila Bokova, Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building. Today, the Senator is also Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communication, and Mass Media of the Russian Federation. The expert is engaged in a particularly important mission: teaching internet safety to children. Together with Ludmila Bokova, the Global Talents launched the Information Security Threats contest aimed at teaching the modern generation to protect themselves from fraud in the digital environment.
A set of projects was carried out jointly with the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. For example, the Personnel of the Future for Russia’s Regions project was supported by the governors of seven constituent entities of the Russian Federation (Republic of Tatarstan, Tula Oblast, Ulyanovsk Oblast, Moscow Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Novgorod Oblast and Perm Krai). The project was aimed at providing talented and highly motivated school students aged 14-17 and focused on developing their regions with professional support. After summarizing the results of the contest, the organisers provided schoolchildren from each region with three-day training at the Governor’s School. There they developed socially significant projects together with their mentors.
The website’s contest called From Children to Children was carried out by the School of New Technologies project office of the Moscow Department of Education and Information Technology together with the Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies (IGUMO). The unusual format of the contest attracted the attention of many Global Talents users. The children created videos demonstrating their skills and knowledge in a variety of areas. The resulting educational videos were aimed at educating and enlightening other schoolchildren and broadening their horizons.
Moreover, the Global Talents visited the office of Russia’s Parlament Newspaper, iconic camps Artek and Orlyonok, the Kremlin, Central Administration of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow, the Moscow Planetarium, Zaryadye Park, and Victory Park.
Partnership with the media became a significant phase in the project’s development. Marina Mishunkina, First Deputy Director General of the Argumenty i Fakty Publishing House, became a close friend of the portal. As a journalist, she emphasized the media’s responsibility for shaping a quality information environment that has a huge impact on society. According to Marina Mishunkina, only positive thinking can lead us to solving the global issues of today. Acquaintance with Marina Mishunkina has grown into a long-term cooperation. The thing is that the Global Talents is not only a portal for supplementary education. It is also a positive online publication and a platform where schoolchildren can run their own blogs.
Russian journalists have always covered the news about the opening of the Patrium Summer School actively. Stories about the project were shown on Vmeste RF and 5TV channels. The film crews of Russia 24 and the TV Centre made big reports about the Global Talents project. The project’s head Marina Volynkina was the main guest on the Big Country programme on the OTR channel.
In addition, Marina Volynkina has repeatedly been invited to international forums and conferences dedicated to the topic of education and upbringing of the younger generation as an expert and speaker. The Global Talents project was even presented at the UN.
Original Educational Methods and Friendly Environment
Over the years of the project’s fulfilment, the Global Talents website has formed a unique ecosystem. The website has turned into an entire online world making it possible to not only communicate but develop and generate ideas jointly.
The original educational technique ‘from children to children’ was the main value of the virtual educational space. It included three levels: lecturers – students – schoolchildren. The academic staff was engaged in building the ideology of the portal. In their turn, students acted as a linking element between adults and children.
The young mentors created an atmosphere of mutual trust and arranged communication with teenagers. Thanks to the small age difference, it was easier for them to find a common language in addition to understandable and interesting formats for explaining even the most complicated things. At the same time, the students not only shared knowledge but also helped the younger generation to socialize, form life values and the right guidelines.
Over time, the methods were improved. In addition to students, project participants who had graduated from their schools but did not want to part with their favourite website were happy to become mentors.
The main principle of the technology called ‘from children to children’ is quite simple but very effective. Learning in a friendly and informal environment is the best way to contribute to self-determination and reveal the potential of schoolchildren.
The Global Talents users not only participated in the contest but also initiated various marathons and actions themselves. For example, one of the users said that he had made a bird feeder with his own hands. His idea was supported by many children. That resulted in an entire flash mob with the participation of boys and girls from different regions of Russia. The organising committee of the Global Talents was also very proud of the Good Deeds marathon. The marathon was launched by young users as well.
The children have not only matured but also developed their best mental qualities over the years. Such initiatives demonstrated that brightly.
Another feature of the Global Talents ecosystem was related to motivating children to participate in contests and other activities. For their successes on the web-portal, its users received the Global Talents points. That was a unique ‘currency’, which could be exchanged for a variety of valuable prizes ranging from souvenirs with the website’s logo to equipment useful for studies, flash cards, and even a tablet computer.
Schoolchildren from all over Russia have scored 3 million Global Talents points in 7 years of the website’s operation. Such a game-like approach made it possible to demonstrate the value of creative and intellectual work to children.
In addition to contests, the website launched special projects aimed at the systemic acquisition of knowledge and consolidation of information through creative assignments. Experts in psychology, project work, culture, ecology, Russian language and literature, and other fields delivered webinars for schoolchildren. These online lessons were related to the school curriculum but, in most cases, went beyond it, thus deepening and complementing the knowledge the children already had. In addition, the experts always tried to sincerely engage the audience. They approached the compilation of tasks creatively, started an open dialogue with school students, and were happy to answer any questions or share their personal and professional experience.
The Global Talents team found it important to create not only a website but also a fully-fledged educational environment where schoolchildren could find friends, acquire systemic and multi-faceted knowledge and skills that would be useful both in studies and in life.
Today’s children spend quite a lot of time on the net. The content they ‘consume’ and the virtual social environment inevitably have an impact on their personality traits. That is why it is so important to make sure that the online environment, in which the current generation is growing up, is friendly.
Many users love Global Talents for its bright design. The team spent days and nights researching online platforms for children and teenagers worldwide. However, the team strived not to replicate existing sites but to create a unique design that would be comfortable for children. To make that possible, the developers chose colours that minimize eye strain, sorted out blocks of information in a most convenient sequence for young users, and thought through the website’s ‘map’ down to the smallest detail to make it easier for users to find the necessary sections.
The characters that were immediately loved by thousands of children from various cities of Russia became the highlight of the website’s design.
From President to International Collaboration
Undoubtedly, the gratitude from children and parents from all over Russia became the main value and quality indicator for the project creators. At the same time, the support from the leaders of the state and the international community was no less pleasant and inspiring.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, repeatedly paid attention to the project. That also happened during Putin’s Annual Press Conference traditionally bringing together thousands of journalists from different countries. He responded several times to questions from Marina Volynkina, Head of the Global Talents web-portal, and active volunteers of the project. The President personally thanked them for their hard work and stressed its importance for the state.
The Presidential Grants Foundation supported the project three times.
Marina Volynkina, Head of the Global Talents project, received a letter of appreciation from President Vladimir Putin for her great contribution to the preparation and fulfilment of socially significant events at the all-Russian level.
The project received great support from the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. Every year, Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council, warmly welcomed the participants of the Patrium Summer School, winners of Global Talents contests. The awarding ceremony took place in the very hall where senators gather to discuss important federal-level issues. Moreover, the collection book of the best essays of the Russia Aspiring to the Future contest begins with the words of the Chairperson of the Federation Council.
Lilia Gumerova, Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education, and Culture, is another close friend of the Global Talents web-portal. The Senator always met the project’s participants personally to get to know the young talents, learn about their interests and achievements, give her feedback, and thank them for their active involvement and care about the country’s future.
In 2018, the Global Talents web-portal became the laureate of the Runet Prize, which is a nationwide award in the field of high technology and the internet rewarding the merits of leading companies. The project won in the Children’s Runet category and was highly assessed by both the jury and Anna Kuznetsova, Children’s Rights Commissioner for the President of the Russian Federation.
The support of Russia’s top officials is an invaluable resource. Largely thanks to it, the Global Talents project has grown into a truly nationwide project.
The initiative has also attracted the attention of the international community. For example, members of the project team won a volunteer marathon held within the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. The leading international experts highly evaluated the Global Talents web-portal.
There was also a bright story related to children’s ‘letters to the front’ that they wrote within one of the competitions dated to the Victory Day. In their letters, Global Talents participants thanked their grandfathers and great grandfathers for the peaceful sky over their heads. The best works were included in a printed book, which was later translated into English.
Members of the Peace 50 community, women leaders from different countries of the world, supported the publication of the Letters to the Front book.
They included Gülden Türktan, founder of the Women 20 from Turkey, Joynicole Martinez, journalist, entrepreneur, and social activist, and Carol Kinsey Goman, Forbes columnist from the USA, Barbara Dietrich, Editor-in-Chief of the Diplomatic World Magazine from Belgium, and Anna Wolf, analyst at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research Munich. They were deeply moved by the sincerity and beauty coming from the hearts of Russian children. Some members of the international community took the initiative to personally communicate with the Global Talents users and delivered webinars for them.
Such international cooperation has shown the similarity of all people living on planet Earth. Their dream is the same: to make children, rising and future generations, happy, to provide them with the opportunities to fulfil their potential and invest their talents in creating a better world. That is a great goal that can be achieved thanks to mutual support and belonging to the common cause.
The Best Is Ahead
On New Year’s Eve, the Global Talents team announced the end of the project. The team members emphasized the idea that any story, even the brightest one, comes to its end one day.
“These seven years were really incredible! We want to believe that every participant of the project, as well as organisers, will have the brightest and kindest memories about it. We are glad that so many talented young people have been involved in our project. Ilya Raevsky, Head of the Scientific Centre in Yaroslavl and host of the STS TV channel, Aleksandr Kravchenko, Russia’s youngest programmer, Lilia Glushko, organiser of patriotic projects, and many other amazing boys and girls from all over the country were among them. We are sincerely proud of them as representatives of the new generation, which is caring, responsible, empathic, and thoughtful”, says Marina Volynkina, Head of the Global Talents web-portal.
Global Talents is a powerful and deep project created during the Decade of Childhood proclaimed by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The project strived to support all schoolchildren, especially those living in the remote regions of Russia and not having enough opportunities for the fulfilment of their potential. Today, we can say that the mission was accomplished.
“Over the past years, Russia had a number of new social projects in the fields of supplementary education and supporting children’s creative and intellectual activities. We are happy that we were among the first actors in that process. As emphasized by our like-minders, we inspired them to carry our similar initiatives”, comments Marina Volynkina.
At one conference, journalists asked Marina Volynkina whether she is afraid of the rising competition in the field of social educational projects and online platforms for supplementary education. According to her, those fields do not have and mustn’t have competition. There’s room only for collaboration in them.
Bringing up the rising generation is a big common cause. The more opportunities children have for comprehensive development, the brighter future Russia and other countries will see.
At the same time, it is important to make sure that every social project is effective and addresses specific relevant tasks. In this sense, the Global Talents project is truly unique. It has become a platform for strong, informal, and unbureaucratic communication among mentors, children, and parents based on trust and sincere interest. However, a step to a completely new level is needed to scale up the project.
“We would be happy to give our warmly loved project to the state, to the hands of the President of the Russian Federation, no less. That is a ready product having great potential for further development. We believe that the acquisition of government-managed status together with the transmission of the same values that it had before will make it possible to achieve incredible results”, emphasizes Marina Volynkina.
The Global Talents team is completing its work. However, it is ready to give the project to the state, to sincerely caring people willing to take the responsibility for the continuation of a kind and effective dialogue with the rising generation.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov