Russia – Scotland Youth Exchange 2009

Russia – Scotland Youth Exchange 2009

In 2009, Ecologia Trust organised an international exchange with Findhorn Scotland’s Youth Project with foster  children from the Kitezh and Orion communities from Russia. It was an amazing experience for groups of teenagers from different countries.  

First, children from Scotland visited Russia and got acquainted with the culture, played together, talked, sang songs around the fire, and most importantly, found new friends! Then a group of children from Russia went to Scotland.

Zhenya Ryazhskaya writes: For almost all the children it was their first trip abroad. My adopted son Sasha remembers this trip as what opened the world to him and made him open minded. Before leaving, Sasha photographed everything in his host family in Findhorn; he really liked everything, home, family, dog, family traditions and family evenings. He said, “it is impossible to convey in words, you must visit there.”

The finale of the project was a performance in which the children performed the play The Master in English, and a talent show in which each participant in the international exchange could sing, dance, show an acrobatic act or other talent. The performance took place in the Universal Hall in Findhorn for 200 local spectators and guests. It was awesome!!! 

“My experience of the Kitezh exchange was one of expanded horizons. Spending time really getting to know people from a completely different background in a completely different culture taught me to appreciate the many different ways we as a species live, to appreciate the gifts of my own upbringing, and to celebrate the differences between us all. The way the Kitezh and Orion communities have survived & thrived as a result of (rather than despite) the difficult situations their members come from was very inspiring to me, and I would like to believe I can bring some of that incredible community spirit into the world via my own day to day life.”

Kevin Featherstone – participant in both Youth Exchanges to Kitezh and back to Findhorn 2009 

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.