Launching any kind of project, regardless of whether it’s a startup, a new NGO or an event, doesn’t seem to be a piece of cake. It might be even more complicated to do so in a new, unknown environment, where you are not familiar with all the aspects of peculiarities of the place. I daresay I am the kind of person who knows how to lead projects inside out. Yet, never before was I bold enough to start my own project. Ironically, the lack of confidence I had when I was working on projects in my country has faded away here in Tartu, and, a little under two weeks ago, my courageous team and I were delighted to hold our first 15×4 Tartu event! Thus, I might continue to claim that the small city of Tartu is a place of endless opportunities!

Fun fact: Anastasiia and I are from the same city

My story begins with me taking up the position of event manager of the International Students Ambassadors. Since I am in charge of scheduling and supervising events for this particular year, I was very enthusiastic to manage the best events that will satisfy the particular academic and career needs of the international community. Besides brainstorming with our ISA-members, I also took affirmative action and asked my friends about their wishes. One friend proposed an idea that, as there was no platform where students had an opportunity to perform and present their scientific research, we ought to put student-led scientific lectures in the limelight. It drove me into thoughts on how we could actually satisfy that need. I had been racking my brain until I saw that one of our ISA members had suggested a 15×4 event.

15×4 is a well-known project in my country. As I was familiar with their concept ideas and purposes, it quickly became clear to me that it was actually what I was seeking. I approached Anastasiia, who initiated that project, and we started our deep discussions. Because we realized that 15×4 is a well-known format that has a franchise in more than 20 cities, we understood that it should be established as an independent project connected to the global 15×4 community. As such, we started our journey of opening a 15×4 franchise in Tartu.

We had many doubts at the beginning. We were thinking for quite a while. ‘How should we announce it?’, ‘when should we start?’, ‘where should we start?’ were but a few of the considerations we needed to take into account. We kept posing questions and alerts to ourselves that had been flourishing our worry. However, it did not stop us on our path to success. Our strong faith in the idea and unlimited love for what we were doing kept us inspired and ready to handle any challenges that would arise along the way. To our astonishment, we always expected worse results. I still remember our first conversation about the number of participants for the first event. Anastasiia expected around 30 people to show up while I insisted that getting 60 people to come should be feasible. Funnily, both of us were wrong in our predictions as the turnout for our first event exceeded 80 people. Indeed, we are really proud of succeeding; however, it wouldn’t have been possible without a great level of support by our team.

Fun Fact: we were happy that so many people showed up

Do you wonder what our organizing kitchen looks like inside? Allow me to give you some insight. Our team consists of 10 enthusiastic people, whom are in charge of media promotion, finding a venue, hunting for speakers, checking all the necessary technical stuff, providing us with video material and more. Although each member of the team has specific duties, everyone is ready to step in and take up any other tasks. They are also all fully involved in the decision-making process. We deeply appreciate every idea and opinion put forward by our members and value their contributions.

The most important part of 15×4 is to have talented speakers. This is why we devote a great deal of attention and time to helping our speakers prepare for their lectures. We decided to have three rehearsals before an event takes place. During the first rehearsal, each speaker gives us a brief introduction of the topic that they would like to present. Afterwards, our team asks questions and comes up with some suggestions on how to develop the topic. We select four speakers per event, whom can then start preparing their 15-minutes lecture for a second rehearsal. This rehearsal gives us an opportunity to find any weaknesses in the presentation that should be fixed before the third rehearsal takes place. That is our simple structure, which has worked well so far.

A priceless moment of working with the 15×4 team

The first event expanded our ambitions. We now have new goals to achieve. However, as with any other project, we also face some problems. We  encounter a lot of challenges every day and should always be ready to find quick and efficient solutions. Just like many other students, we also struggle with issues such as a lack of time and overloaded study schedules. Nevertheless, despite all the obstacles, there are more things that help us keep the fire burning brightly in our hearts. One of the most significant, but pretty unexpected, benefits for me is that I have made good friends whilst working on this project. Above all, I realized that working on 15×4 helps me to expand my knowledge in fields that I otherwise would never have. I feel like this is one of the most valuable moment of my life in Tartu. Therefore, I encourage you to challenge yourself and try to do something new. You should dare to try to make your dream come true in Tartu! We did so, and we succeeded. Now, it is your turn!