The hidden potential of International Alumni in Belarus and Armenia

2 documentary films presenting personal stories of international alumni returning back home to Belarus and Armenia after having graduated from universities in Europe and challenges they meet on the way to professional and personal self-realization. The films also show the other side of the situation – opinion of local employers and job market peculiarities and opportunities.
ESAA Projects, .

When students are preparing themselves for education experience abroad, usually they cannot even imagine how it would change them: from career goals to personal values. International Alumni come back home with changed attitudes, interests and approaches. At the same time most probably, everything stayed the same in their home countries and their social circle, and here comes the reverse cultural shock.

People would like to use the knowledge and skills obtained abroad along with getting a career boost, especially if they graduated from a Master`s or PhD. Often graduates find job opportunities at international companies, while local employers do not prioritize international experience when searching for employees. Knowledge of foreign languages is the main competitive advantage in the local market. In some cases, businesses that operate internationally value knowledge and approaches obtained during education abroad, however, such cases are sporadic. Employers that never have gone through international experience themselves are struggling to understand the graduates and to find the organizational fit. Often, graduates are considered as overqualified for a job. Moreover, being away for a year or more results in the lost sense of the job market and absence of the local network. The situation implies lost opportunities for both graduates and employers.

During the project the team created 2 films: one in Armenia and one in Belarus. They interviewed alumni, employers and various stakeholders being driven by the desire to show the situation as it is and stay as objective as possible. Each movie involved lots of creative work and has its own style and a personal touch of the authors. The films have a long-lasting impact and will be relevant for those who would like to apply for the education programmes abroad to better understand the opportunities, for fresh graduates to figure out a roadmap and to find opportunities matching the obtained skills, for local employers to better understand skills, capabilities and needs of international alumni. Also, the films will be relevant for the wider community and will contribute to an international awareness about Belarus and Armenia.

The project was driven by the project leaders: Anna Novitskaya in Belarus and Anna Gevorgyan in Armenia supported by the various organizations: Erasmus + National Office in Armenia, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Belarus, Startup-hub IMAGURU and the Agency ‘Your Tomorrow’.

The films were presented locally in Minsk and Yerevan. In Belarus the presentation event was held during the festival “EU – Belarus: opportunities for young people” organized by the European Union office in Belarus. The event included a special section: Alumni Picnic during which the film was screened. In Armenia the film was screened at Article 3 club, which is a non-formal open space for events. The events were attended by 80+ students, alumni, employers, representatives of the Erasmus+ National Office and general public.

The Belarusian film is available online:
The Armenian film will be available online by the end of June. The English subtitles option for both films will be available in July 2019.

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