Jas Social Impact winners: ‘iz’ Project
We continue discovering projects of the winners of Jas Social Impact competition organized by NU Social Development Fund. The next one is “iz Project”. We talked with the project leader – Yingkar Bahetnur, a graduate of Civil Engineering Bachelor program of the NU School of Engineering and Digital Sciences.
❓: Please tell us about your project
❗: “iz Project” is a social media project on Instagram and YouTube. Our team consists of a small group of Kazakh youth from different parts of Kazakhstan and beyond. We want to bring about the topic of ethnic return immigrants in Kazakhstan.
“IZ” in Kazakh has a range of definitions. It could mean “trace” — a mark, an object, or a sign that shows existence or presence. It could also stand for “footprint.” It may be referred to as “track” — a rough path usually made by people walking there. Additionally, it represents “imprint” — a distinctive influence.
Our team thinks that every “iz” matters, in the scope of our project, those geographically longer paths made by ethnic return immigrants in Kazakhstan are of importance. Therefore, we would be talking about the ethnic return immigrants: individuals, policies, culture, investigations, perspectives, and stories.
Within the scope of this project, our mission is to empower the ethnic immigrant youth in Kazakhstan to better integrate into Kazakh society and build understanding among ethnic Kazakh youth from different geographical & cultural backgrounds.
As an outcome, we envision a united Kazakh society where ethnic return immigrants can realize their ambitions with guaranteed rights and opportunities. At the same time, we hope each ethnic return Kazakh from the younger generation could take charge of creating their own meaningful and fulfilling tracks.
❓: Why did you decide to choose this sphere?
❗ : Nine years ago, part of my family decided to migrate to Kazakhstan from China — I am of the same background as the project’s focus beneficiary. Since then, my immigrant life has been filled with unexpected hardships as well as opportunities. Gradually, I witnessed my peers from foreign countries having more or less similar experiences, and I feel empathetic towards their challenges: some moved here at their parents’ will and they think of the time back in their hometown; some came here due to their high resonance with Kazakh identity but were very discouraged by the fact that the majority of the population still speak Russian more; some moved alone without their parents at a relatively young age and never experienced a sense of belonging; some barely made it to higher education but dropped out very soon because of the language barrier and ignorance of the local education system. The list goes on, as each has their own individual stories.
It hurts to see young ethnic return immigrants having little hope that they would enjoy the same privileges as the local citizens, it hurts to sense a demotivated atmosphere among ethnic return immigrant youth about creating their own meaningful and fulfilling paths, but it hurts more as there is very little attention paid to this group of people from our society.
❓: What are the next steps?
❗ : We launched our social media accounts in the beginning of October, and we are using YouTube and Instagram platforms to create content that are in accordance with our goal:
On YouTube, there would be video interviews with your professionals who were born in foreign countries and are now employed in different fields. We’d like to embrace diversity in this activity by involving speakers from a range of countries and professional backgrounds.
On Instagram, we’d be posting content related to the topic at hand: academic studies, policies and laws, arts and culture, growth opportunities, personal stories, people’s perspectives, and similar practices in foreign countries.
Therefore, as the project team, our responsibilities lie in researching the helpful and interesting information, finding and reaching out to potential speakers and storytellers, and presenting these in a visually pleasant way.
❓: Could you please give advice on how to get funding for a social and business idea? Maybe some tips on preparing an application?
❗ : I just started my journey as a project lead, and in this short period of time, I already have some takeaways:
✔ Have an original and innovative idea. The world is imperfect and there are many problems to be solved. Be observant so you could see something that others may have ignored. But even if the thing you care about is being tackled by others, you may come up with your unique solutions.
✔ Be ready for a steep learning curve, especially if you’re working on an unfamiliar topic. This is because your stakeholders — sponsors, partners, beneficiaries, and your members — want you to be an expert in your area. It doesn’t only include reading more and listening more, receiving guidance from more experienced professionals in the same field also can make this process more productive.
✔ Treat proposal writing seriously and give enough time for writing, reviewing, and proofreading. The written piece started several hours before the deadline and the one having been revised by others have a huge difference.
✔ In my case, the input from my team members played an important role. Our team is pretty diverse in terms of their educational, geographical, and cultural backgrounds, and each of them had their own perspectives and crazy ideas — which definitely added colors to my project.