Transparency International School on Integrity (TISI)
February 28, 2018 / Volunteering
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Summer anti-corruption school Transparency International School of Integrity
In the sunny July 2017, I took part in the Summer anti-corruption school “Transparency International School of Integrity” and, I won’t lie, if I call this project one of the largest and most significant among all I have ever participated in. There were more than 120 participants from 70 countries of the world, including Africa and Australia. We met the most experienced speakers from neighboring countries and non-CIS countries. On the very first day a press conference with the President of Lithuania and the official reception by the British Ambassador to Lithuania were carried out. Not every training can brag about this! We have been working tirelessly for the entire week, and going home, each of us took a piece of the colossal collective energy and a frenzied desire to resist violations of the anti-corruption law and not only that.
Submitting an application, I least expected to be among all those hardboiled experts and representatives of the anti-corruption sector, which I was surrounded by during these 7 days. Moreover, neither my education nor the main field of activity - teaching - was related to the subject matter of the school. However, the true story in the basis of my motivation letter evidently impressed the selection committee. In my sincere story I wrote that once, being a student, I worked as a conductor at Russian railways and instead of the promised 2-week training we were offered to "chip in" for certificates or go home, and how the whole summer I served hundreds of people, who were not aware of my complete professional inadequacy. This story appeared to be more important than academic degrees and work experience.
Certainly, I felt very uncomfortable getting acquainted with the participants of the school, because they were quite experienced people, struggling against the injustice and negligence of the authorities on a day-to-day basis. However, this affected neither their attitude to me, nor the success of my work and growth within the school. Every day we had lectures and practical trainings, during which we had the opportunity to get acquainted with statistical data, methods of fighting corruption and the stories of real people including the so-called whistle blowers. These are people, who had courage to share the facts of corruption that occur at their work. Every day we were as a squeezed orange, but this fatigue was pleasant and desirable. Regular coffee breaks and long lunch breaks, when we could step out into the fresh air and simply take a deep breath, were a real salvation.
Without question, hosts arranged everything nicely so besides working efficiently, participants also had time to get to know the culture of the country more closely. Excursions around Vilnius and the Trakai Castle were organised for us. Within the framework of the dinner at the British Embassy, representatives of each country treated everybody to national food (of course, we did not fall behind - everyone liked the marshmallows, marmalade, and cranberries in sugar, and unusually long potato chips!). In the evenings, those who wished could go in for sports, but almost everyone left for the center of the city, in order to get a little distracted and to discuss the results of the previous day in informal surroundings.
Perhaps, the only drawback was housing - the younger members of the school tolerated the prospect of spending 7 days in a standard student hostel with a shared shower and minimal conveniences, but many found such housing conditions unsuitable and moved to hotels. However, there turned out to be many people who were not embarrassed by the modest interior of the student rooms, and every night the hostel came alive - laughter, jokes and songs in all languages did not stop until dawn!
It is certainly worth noting that I could not take part in the school if I did not receive a scholarship – just as in the previous year the "fee" for the school costs nearly 700 euros. Most of last year's participants were sponsored by the employers, but participants from the post-soviet states can be discouraged by such a sum. But I'm confident: if it worked out for me, you will certainly succeed! So do not hesitate to apply and make your first confident step on the path from those we were to those we still have to become! Good luck!
Author of the text - Valeryia Bulatskaya
Translated by - Drejk Barkov
Date of event – July 2017
Date of publication - 28.02.2018