Building Confidence. Building Dreams.
— Ronne Rock · Tuesday, May 4, 2021 —
The college students’ conversation over a celebratory dinner at a special restaurant in Russia sounds strikingly similar to those of students in any US city or town. Because of COVID’s impact, learning was shifted from classrooms to computers. Entrance exams and campus visits transitioned to virtual experiences.
For Andrey and Sveta in St. Petersburg, the conversation also includes the reality of being a young adult navigating life without a traditional family to provide support and encouragement. Instead, Orphan Outreach staff has become their safety net, providing mentoring and wisdom, ensuring the students receive medical, dental, and legal care, and always being a listening ear and partner in prayer.
The statistics aren’t promising for young adults who have aged out of residential care facilities. An estimated 38,000 children age out of Russian orphanages each year, and many fall victim to trafficking and exploitation. Orphan Outreach has worked in Russia since 2007, providing safe, nurturing support for young adults as they leave the orphanage system and navigate the transition to independent living.
The road is just beginning for Sveta, who has completed her first semester of college. Her classes were all online due to COVID, and she excelled at basic exams while at the same time passing competitive entrance exams for the University of Economy and Finance.
For Andrey, it’s the end of his first semester of his second year at the University of Pharmacology. It’s not been an easy year of study, with a combination of online and in-person classes. Andrey also moved into a new apartment but had little time to get acclimated to his community because of mandated quarantines and curfews.
And yet, both students received high marks. And, as confidence builds, so do their plans and dreams for the future.
Andrey is investing more time in his work with the Students’ Scientific Society and plans to focus on language study as he hopes to do post-graduate work abroad. Sveta wants to take extra English language classes, to give her even stronger footing in the job market when she graduates.
Dreams extend beyond academics as well. They are both ready to travel once restrictions are lifted. Neither has traveled outside of St. Petersburg, and both agree that places in Russia like Karelia (known as the land of lakes near the Finnish border) and Lake Baikal (the world’s deepest lake, found near Siberia) sound intriguing. Andrey wants to take camping trips and do some rafting. Sveta thinks she might want to give those things a try too.
“We are all very proud of their success and we wanted to do something special for them,” says Natasha, Regional Director of Eastern Europe for Orphan Outreach. “They both appreciate the support we are able to provide for them through our wonderful supporters like Porter’s and sponsors who are a vital part of their lives.”