From Russia to America: How Civic Service Changes Lives
Involvement in one's community can build bridges, it can change lives, and it can better the world. When one person reaches out to their community, for the intention of bettering themselves or others, it often ends up contributing to something much bigger.
According to a 2014 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service says, one in four Americans participate in community service.This is a practice that brings together people from all walks of life, and all corners of the world. Things like a helping hand, a smile, and a good cause can bring together even the most unlikely of friends.

Katia Gushchina and Malinda Osborn are two young women, one from Russia and one from America. Both of these girls have changed their lives, and the lives of the people around them, because they believe in helping their neighbors. Gushchina has ran endless miles to become a stronger person, and raised thousands for a children's charity. While Osborn has spent endless hours of her college career mentoring and teaching other new mentors what it means to be a good mentor.
Monica casey
A Hero without a Hero Complex
Malinda Osborn is one of the many students who are taking up community service and social involvement as a crucial part of their life.
Locally grown grape is cheap and very juicy
Osborn is a senior at the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) and a student advisor for the UWT Students Together Empowering Personal Success (STEPS) mentoring program. She has been a mentor to high school students, and also participates in occasional community service -- all while taking a full class load.

Osborn is a first generation student from the Mariana Islands near Guam. She says that she felt "lost and embarrassed" when it came to finding information about colleges and universities. Her mom was sick at the time and nobody else could help. She signed up for TRIO, a program aimed at helping first generation and low income students go to college.
"I confided in my Trio advisor and one day he asked me to stay after school. The next thing I know, I have a UWT STEPS mentor," Osborn said. "My TRIO advisor told me to exchange contact information and that I would be meeting with this person every week."
Osborn's story is unique in that her mentor was Mary Santos, another young Chamorro student. Currently, Osborn works under Santos, a student mentoring specialist in the Office for Equity and Inclusion at UWT.

"I decided to work for the STEPS program because I wanted to help better the program and give back to the community," She said. "At the time, I was so grateful for the STEPS program for giving me a mentor, especially for giving me a Chamorro woman as a mentor as I am also a Chamorro woman. Mary was someone I could relate to and I knew I could always count on her."
Osborn believes that mentoring, on both sides has made her more confident and humble.
"Sometimes people just need that one person to believe in them, knowledge their existence, and push them to their full potential," she said. "Being a mentor I have learned that it's not about being someone's hero or having a 'hero complex.'" It is not about telling someone what they should do because you know what they need. People know what they need already. Being a mentor is relationship where both parties are meant to grow."
This story is about a typical Russian university student who wants to make her life better. As a result, she is making life not only better for herself, but also for the world around her.
Katya Gushchina is a 19 year old student. She is interested in sports, literature and photography. Gushchina occasionally works as a photographer for weddings and sporting events. Her life completely changed last year when she began her running journey.

"It was really hard not only because of the natural conditions, but I was alone without any support," Gushchina said. "But, the results exceeded all my expectations…I started to take part in other running events every weekend...There, I met my running family."

Gushchina's tale begins trivially. She didn't have the time to train in a gym, so she decided to start running to keep herself in shape. Her first distances were relatively short, only 3 km (1 mile) yet they seemed impossible. Step by step, the distance was increasing and Gushchina was getting stronger, not only physically but emotionally as well.

Gushchina's first official race was a distance
of 50 km (31 miles) on a forest trail.
One of the most inspiring and difficult marathons in Russia is the Tropa Muzhestva, which means The Path of Courage. The participants have the choice to run either the 30 km (18 miles), 50 km (31 miles) or 100 km (62 miles) with a bag which can weigh either 5 or 10 kg (11 or 22 lbs). Rather than running in a stadium or on a track, participants of The Path of Courage must run in snow, swamps, dirt, and many other obstacles.

The race is a great opportunity to check you and your comrade's skills and endurance. The Path of Courage doesn't support the ideas of winning at all cost or rivalry, but proclaims the principles of winning together! and cooperation!

The Path of Courage
Gushchina participated in this challenge in the fall of 2016. She said that it's much easier to run 50 km (31 mi) than to run The Path of Courage in the forest.
Gushchina's team placed second in the race the first time she participated
"Somewhere in the middle of the race I fell into the river. The team quickly reacted - they helped me, and so everything was alright. At the end of the trail it was really hard to walk, and I cried and fell many times. We passed through bogs, and huge snowdrifts - the day before the trail there was an icy rainstorm. So the forest was full of fallen trees and their branches were hitting me in the face."
Katya Gushchina
There are several organizations that sponsor marathons similar to The Path of Courage. Another popular organization is the Russian Marathon. This year, they held the Epiphany Marathon. Participants could cool off by jumping into an ice hole in the Moscow River after finishing their run.

Gushchina was brave, and it was her first time participating in the run so she jumped into the icy water. She was scared because of the freezing weather as well as the ice water. However, it was an important portion of this event, and an old Russian tradition.

The Epiphany Marathon
Gushchina's dog, Rich also runs with her when he's allowed into the marathon.

"It is much harder for me to run long distances than for my dog, because for Rich running is only fun, he's a husky! We participate in official races and we plan to do it more and more. But there are some problems. For example, it is difficult to run with him in the city. Not all organizations allow me to race with my dog. Only the Russian Marathon gave us a joint passport for participation in the races and getting a medal,"

Gushchina said.

Gushchina participates in charity running events as well as marathons that are not specifically used to raise money. In 2016 she took a part in a public initiative called Run for Children. For this run, members pledge a certain number of kilometers and give a donation over the course of a year. If they do not reach their goal they must double their donation.

Last year, Gushchina promised to run 444 km. (275 miles). She did this as well as donating 10,000 rubles. ($172,239) to the foundation Gift of Life. Her goal for 2017 is much more challenging. She has pledged to run 3,333 km (2,071 miles)!
"Of course, you can just donate to a cause. But, we want to attract more people to sports and charity,"
— Katya Gushchina

The charity runs Gushchina participates in benefit children as well as animals. This year she has already ran marathons supporting dogs and animal shelters.

Gushchina has already run more than 3,000 km (1,864 miles) in 2017. She is adamant that running has changed her life. It helped her cope with life's difficulties and showed her a new side of life full of opportunities. Her courage and patience can be motivational for many.

Gushchina shows us that nothing is impossible. She is trying to grow as a person, while simultaneously calling on young people to do the same. She exemplifies the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as well as the importance of civic service. Running instills in her a real strength, and she is ready to help everyone.
This is a story about an everyday girl who shows us that anyone can change their life and help their community. It is not hard to help people, or to do something for others. This kind of transformation can change not only you, but the world around you.
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