“I was sitting in my room in the dormitory thinking about what I personally can do to make the world better. This is how the International Organization “Youths Make a Difference” appeared,” says Tatiana Denseh Kusi, student of the Academy of Engineering

“I was sitting in my room in the dormitory thinking about what I personally can do to make the world better. This is how the International Organization “Youths Make a Difference” appeared,” says Tatiana Denseh Kusi, student of the Academy of Engineering

Tatiana Denseh Kusi from Cameroon is a 4th year student majoring in Technical Systems Management. In 2019, she founded the “Youths Make a Difference” (YMD) International Youth Organization. Now it unites 62 people from 20 African countries. In 2021, Tatiana won the Africa Excellence Award in the category “African Youth Ambassador 2021”. Read the interview about how she created a youth organization, how YMD helps internally displaced persons from the conflict zones in Cameroon and how to combine studies with volunteering.

What inspired you to study in Russia?

I wanted to get the best technical education. In addition, Russia is known for its people, history and weather. I heard about the politicians — Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin, poet Alexander Pushkin, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union. Also I watched a documentary about insanely cold Siberia. I was curious to get acquainted with Russia and its culture.

What surprised you in Moscow?

I came from a warm country — Cameroon. We don’t have that cold. I will never forget the first Moscow wind at Sheremetyevo airport! When I went down to the subway, I was amazed by the beauty. And, of course, I went to Red Square — it is no less beautiful. As for food I was shocked by sour cream. When I tried it for the first time, I could not understand whether it was yogurt or mayonnaise? Strange taste.

What stereotypes about Africa have you come across?

There are many stereotypes about Africa in Russia, here are some of them.

  1. Africa is a country.
  2. All Africans are black.
  3.  Africans live in the jungle, where there is no water, no food, no beautiful cities.

I tell my foreign friends things they haven’t heard about Africa yet. This is how I fight stereotypes. I also share the beauties of our continent in my accounts on social networks.

How difficult was it to learn Russian?

Like most foreign students, I learned Russian in a preparatory course. In addition, I have many Russian friends with whom I have to communicate in Russian. My knowledge is not perfect yet, but everything is still ahead!

Why did you decide to major in “Management of technical systems”?

We live in an era where technology has become part of everyday life. I love everything related to technology, and I want to really know the field. Few people do this — it gives me an advantage in the labor market.

I specialize in Management of innovation in engineering business. My dream is to become a consultant in this sphere. Thanks to this profession, I can create a consulting firm and an academy of innovation in my homeland, write books and talk about the role of innovative technologies in business.

How does knowledge of neurotechnology, big data processing methods and other information technologies help you in life?

This is definitely a big plus. I know how, when and whom these technologies can help. For example, neurotechnologies allow us to understand the neural organization of the brain and influence its functions. Brain diseases are common but difficult to treat due to the complex nature of the organ itself. And new technologies, such as neuro-, help the medical field and save patients.

Tell me about Youths Make a Difference. How did it all start?

The vision of YMD is to ’to vitalize the innovative potentials of African youths in different sectors and industries as a means to attain African sustainable Economic growth. We train young leaders, conduct career orientation, organize conferences and seminars on issues that affect our society, organize youth camps, implement community projects, and most importantly, advocate for peace and development in Africa. For example, we have the YMD Small Business Support for Young Internally Displaced Persons from North West and South West Cameroon project, which has helped support IDPs from war regions.

Young people often go astray, lose hope due to unemployment and political instability, and live without a purpose... One day I was sitting in my dorm room wondering: “How can I personally make the world better?”. I started writing down thoughts and turning them into a concept. In the same year, I did some research, and the very next year, the YMD organization appeared. The name of the organization calls the youth to get out of their comfort zone and help the world.

How do you promote education in African schools?

We talk to youths, tell them about the need for education, share school didactics to pupils and educational institutions. Promoting education is important. It is education that gives us knowledge and the opportunity to find work, and develops the nation.

Tell us about the project “YMD Small Business Support for Young Internally Displaced Persons from North-South and South-West Cameroon”. What were you doing?

Since 2016, there have been Anglophone crisis destroying some regions of Cameroon. Political instability has led to migration within the country. I personally was not there because of the closed borders, but there is a YMD team in Cameroon. I watched them from a distance. We did not only provided humanitarian assistance, but also collected funds to support the small businesses of some migrants. So they have a constant income, and then helping one person is equal to helping a family of 10 people. This project really touched me — I myself am from a region where there is a military conflict.

How to join the YMD?

Not only Africans can become members of the organization. If you are over 17 years old, we are waiting for you! It’s simple:

  1. Send an application to our secretariat;
  2. We will send you detailed information about the joining procedure.

Did you expect to win the Africa Excellence Award 2021 (AEA)?

I was extremely happy! I was overwhelmed with pride, because a few weeks earlier I had become the “Young Personality of the Week” according to YAGA News (Young And Gifted Africans news portal). The AEA award shows that being myself, I am making an important contribution. I was not sure of the victory, but I was optimistic, because I knew that I had every chance.

You study, head an international organization and participate in various events. How to find time for everything?

Planning is not that hard. Now I work more and rest less — everything has its time. Now is the stage when you need to invest time and effort. Such investments will definitely bring results.

I am lucky to have roommates — they are sympathetic to my online calls and support me. And a couple of years ago, when I returned from the World Youth Forum from Egypt, my classmates and teachers helped me catch up.

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