Voronovo: the Heart of Non-Academic Activists

Voronovo: the Heart of Non-Academic Activists

All HSE campuses have rich and intense extracurricular life of all kinds: from theatre clubs to open lectures, from cyber games to art classes. The concentration of enthusiastic, open-minded and energetic people there is tremendous. But what would happen if they all gather in one place and spend 2 days together? You’re about to know the answer.

Voronovo is a training centre of the HSE in Moscow. It is the most popular place to hold conferences, meetings and courses. From the 30th of November till the 2nd of December all heads of student clubs from Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Saint Petersburg gathered there. 

The event was organized by initiative group of Moscow Student Council and included lectures, workshops and group projects. All the participants did not only study but also enjoyed their time communicating with each other and guests, and organizing some parties. So why were all of those people gathered there?

Ekaterina Balashova, the head of SDS:  The main idea was to create new events or projects that would include all HSE campuses. We had lectures and workshops to get some knowledge and then start developing our own.

Timur Suleimanov, theatre club “Neverland”:  There were heads of different organizations and active representatives of clubs from all HSE campuses who were supposed to create some all-inclusive events.

Polina Malahova, the head of “The Vyshka” SPb : Officially, we were to get acquainted with activists from all HSE. We got a chance to exchange some experience, ideas, and local practices that exist in all campuses. Teach each other some tips or even try to expand some local projects to other cities.

The idea is actually really great. Living under the slogan of “Vyshka is a family”, campuses though meet and communicate rarely with each other. So in theory such event is a great opportunity and a step towards setting connections among non-academic spheres and lives of students from different cities. What did they do? 

Daria Venikova, HR manager of ESN: We spent 3 days there, attending different lectures, developing our projects and presenting them.

Ekaterina Balashova:  I enjoyed some speakers a lot. But overall, the actual programme was questionable. Being as active as we are, it is pretty impossible to come up with an event in 2 hours with people you’ve never worked with or even met before. Especially considering that we were supposed to work on each single little detail – it was a challenge, but not exactly why it had to be like that.

Polina Malahova:  It wasn’t bad. Our team from SPb became more close-knit; we got to know each other better. And that was great! From organizational point of view, I think they could have done a much better job. Time management didn’t make any sense; programme itself could have been more thought through and logical. I just hope that they learnt their lessons and will fix these programme drawbacks later on.

Timur Suleimanov:  Firstly, we were to present the events that we are proud of and that we think are greatly organized in each campus. And generally introduce the non-academic life of HSE SPb. Then we had some entertaining quests and games, and then we were divided into teams by different types of events.

My team worked on theatrical festival. As for me, the most time should have been dedicated to those projects. Two hours for brainstorming, budget planning and presentation – that was strange. We also had some teambuilding exercises but in different groups, and it didn’t work.

The organizational process wasn’t impressive. Participants seemed to be frustrated with timing and redistribution between activities there. But it’s not that bad – they admit that it was a great experience of communication for SPb’s team. They definitely got closer. What overweight what: community spirit or failures in organization?

Daria Venikova: My impressions are uncertain. On one hand, some speakers were amazing and inspiring, and their qualifications were unquestionable. On the other – some were not. The ways some of them were acted were not pleasant at all. Entertaining part was also strange. There were no logic or morality in them, and some were just boring.

I might be biased but SDS or curators in our campus do such activities on a higher level. But I was impressed with Voronovo itself. The building is very modern, comfortable and perfect for such events. Students from other campuses were enthusiastic, active and energized – I enjoyed working with them.

Ekaterina Balashova: Feelings are mixed and I am still processing what we had there. I’m thankful for closer communication with activists from our campus. We had great time together.

Polina Malahova: Of course we were lucky to spend time in Voronovo with gorgeous people and learn more about my campus’ non-academic life. But those organizational failures worsen the impressions.

One of the goals of that project was to learn and explore something new that could be applied in campuses or included into already existing projects. Did the participants share anything new despite dissatisfaction with the programme of the event?

Ekaterina Balashova:  I came back with clear understanding of how different our campuses are.

Daria Venikova: I made a new friend among our students. I have never had an opportunity to closely communicate with heads of the clubs, and they were so creative and positive. We promised each other to meet, develop new projects and set connections among clubs.

Polina Malahova:  New friends definitely. I can’t say that the educational part of the Voronovo event was bad, but it just wasn’t new for me. And new impressions, for sure. Each and every event of this kind helps building connections, gaining bright memories and inside jokes.

Timur Suleimanov:  I found couple of lectures extremely useful. There were about presentation and event management. These lectures together provided me with full picture of project implementation.

Of course, there was no competition among campuses. But still teams were eager to present theirs campuses as better as possible, and surely were making comparisons.

Timur Suleimanov: They are different. And Moscow one seem to be much broader. But I should admit that they lack some practices that we have, as well as those in Perm and Nizhny Novgorod. So we have something to teach them. And of course, we are speaking about different amount of participants in clubs. Some Moscow and SPb organizations are huge in number of participants, which is not common for the rest campuses.

Daria Venikova: SPb is a mixture of the best features of other campuses’ non-academic lives. We are as warm and family-like as Perm and Nizhny Novgorod. Moscow team is more professional and high in quality.

Polina Malahova: SPb looks broader and more developed than Perm and Nizhny Novgorod, of course due to the number of students and schools. At the same time it appeared to be more organized than Moscow where too much is happening and cause quality problems. I feel like we are more responsible because of our tighter connections among students.

Ekaterina Balashova: To be honest, I got even stronger feeling that SPb is the best. We are balanced and there is no privilege of specific types of activities. Events, art, sports – we have it all.


With all pros and cons meeting in Voronovo was an unusual and productive event for SPb clubs' leaders and activists. And it left some open questions which are still highly discussed. For example, there is a chance that in future some students from all campuses will participate in a new Talent Show event – a project that got most votes from judges and might get financial support.

Text by
Angelina Silaeva