by Illaria Dana, Education Major
Alumnus Interview with Alex Shlyk
Alex Shlyk was a student at Southern Maine Community College from 2002 to 2003 in a “one year exchange program.” He is originally from Belarus, a European country that was part of the Soviet Union prior to declaring independence on July 27, 1990. He spoke about his life after SMCC, and the career he has developed since then as part of a Non-Government Organization.
After he attended SMCC he, “went back to the University in Belarus. After that I continued on to my Master’s [Degree] and a second Master’s elsewhere.”
At SMCC he was in a non-degree program, so he could take a variety of classes based on interest. “As part of my exchange program, I needed to specialize in something, so I picked Computer Science then I majored in Economics and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Economics in Belarus.”
“My job now is with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Within OSCE, I work for the department that deals with human rights, democratic governance, things like this. One of the departments in which I work is Elections. We basically observe elections everywhere, in the 57 countries of the Organization. Our job to is provide the independent, impartial assessment of how these elections go.
“Elections are more than just one day. We monitor for a period of time, looking at things like media coverage, voter registration, how the campaigns are done, whether the candidates can say what they want, political finance, things like these. It’s more than just one day’s observation, though that is also included in countries that need it.
“This is the essence of the work I am doing. Of course it includes small details of how to get specific things done, but it boils down to observing elections. We sometimes work in countries that are different in their levels of democracy, but we are always welcome. We don’t go if we aren’t welcome. If we cannot do the job we are intended to do, we should not go. If we come, we are sure that we are going to be properly treated and given the protection and access that we need.”