Sargy Atlasova shares with Girl Power Talk her aspirational journey as a traveller, learner, and social worker.
I was born in the small, remote indigenous community of Oymyakon, Russia and I lived there through high school. Though I lived in one place, I had been exposed to a lot of different cultures thanks to the number of exchange programs my home university hosted. I had an opportunity to interact with students from different nations like Canada, the USA, and Norway and take part in quite a few international conferences and forums. I believe this is where I built my addiction to travelling and exploring new cultures. Subsequently, I wanted this passion to translate into my career path.
I moved to St. Petersburg after high school with the aim to travel as much as possible. Since then, I have visited over 69 countries and I have friends worldwide. I have built wonderful relations in all different cultures and countries, mainly due to couch surfing and other ex-pat communities! These strong bonds are truly the gems of my life. It has also helped me build my communication skills and vocabulary. While travelling, I try to become a part of different communities, and I also like to work and volunteer. For example, I sometimes teach English for free because I believe knowledge is something that must always be shared.
India is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. My fascination with India began when I read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This was when I was working as a fresher in a bank, and I was very inspired by the description of Bombay in the book. In a moment of carpe diem, I started looking for opportunities online and I was delighted when I found one in Mumbai—where my Shantaram dream came true, and I got to explore the book in real life.
I currently work in community management—which is one of the newer fields of marketing. I want to implement and build something valuable while staying in this field and leveraging the new technology and practices. Eventually, I also want to open a school in rural areas on a volunteer teaching basis. I have the vision of first trying this online, and then transitioning to offline. I want to implement this in my home region. As part of the United Nations Global Indigenous Caucus, I have also led and been a part of campaigns that advocate for indigenous rights and human rights, both of which I am very passionate about.
The biggest challenge I face these days is the dynamic nature of technology. In my field, we must keep up to date with the latest trends and learn new practices almost every day. Today, I am learning and implementing things like digital analytics, words I was completely unfamiliar with when I was in school. However, I love doing this because I am passionate about it and that is the key to being successful in any field—to follow your heart and have passion.
A challenge I faced in Russia is the mindset of employers who did not want to hire young women simply because they might start families. Then they would have to give them maternity benefits. Questions about your boyfriend and your family status were quite common in interviews. I struggled through this when I started my professional journey, and a lot of girls still do.
I think what we all need to learn in today’s fast-paced world is prioritizing. We need to have a work-life balance and invest in things that make us feel good. I like to volunteer and give back as a way of self-investment. Another thing that has helped me stay sane is creating some distance from social media. I also like to jog and exercise, which gives me a great sense of achievement. And of course, my greatest support system is my friends, with whom I can share anything.
My advice to the youth leaders out there would be to listen and learn. We must remember that the feedback we get won’t always be positive, so we must learn to take constructive criticism and learn from our mistakes. After all, life is nothing but a journey of continuous learning, exploring, and growing!