“With my knowledge of international law, my experience in Belarus and my global experience in the public sector, it seems like I’m the perfect bridge.”
For Olga Voronovich, the pursuit of higher learning—she has studied in Moscow, Singapore, Geneva, her native Belarus and now America—is wrapped up with her hopes for her country and the next stages of its economic transformation.
“Taking my career path into account, it was very logical” to come to Buffalo, she says. “I started thinking about the LLM several years ago. I thought, maybe it was time to start thinking about what I want to do further—how I want Belarus as a country to evolve and how I want to see my homeland do well.”
That means getting deeper into the world of international trade, which represents an evolution from her career as a diplomat. Voronovich’s resume includes several high-responsibility positions in that world: as a United Nations consultant developing a program to help Belarus achieve the goals of the UN’s Program on HIV/AIDS; as a senior officer coordinating the Belarus government, diplomatic corps and international organizations around the 2019 European Games; serving as a secretary in Belarus’ UN mission in New York City, working on issues from HIV/AIDS to global migration to climate change; and a post in Belarus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working in the General Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and, among other tasks, negotiating, free trade agreements.
“I worked for three years in New York City,” Voronovich says, “but I wanted to explore more and see more of America, visit the cities. Buffalo seemed like a perfect match. It’s New York but it’s not New York City. And it is so close to the Canadian border, so I can see how the U.S. trades with Canada, how companies relate to each other”—similar, she says, to how firms in Belarus and Russia do business together.
Like her fellow Fulbright Scholar, Voronovich speaks four languages: Belarusian, Russian, French, and English, which she says children in Belarus start learning in elementary school.
She began in the law school’s General LLM Program but soon found her passion and switched to pursue the degree in Cross-Border Legal Studies. The degree, she says, will make it possible for her to pursue her next position with a rare mixture of diplomatic and business expertise. “With my knowledge of international law, my experience in Belarus and my global experience in the public sector, it seems like I’m the perfect bridge,” she says.
“Everything is interdependent, not only countries but also the private and public sectors are interdependent. I’m planning to look at Belarusian and Russian high-tech companies & start-ups wanting to enter into the U.S. market and expand their presence in the United States. It’s a very ambitious plan, but it’s not the first time I’ve created something from scratch.”
She’ll take with her a better understanding of New York’s second-largest city. “I like Buffalo, really,” she says. “I think this city has a lot of opportunities. It has all of the necessary characteristics to be successful in the 21st century.” Soviet-era Belarus was one of the most important industrial centres of the USSR, and Voronovich sees parallels with Buffalo’s past. “Belarus has the same struggles,” she says, “but times change and what was a pillar of success in the 20th century doesn’t work anymore. My advice is not to look to the past but to look forward.”