Education, lectures, development. The city’s educational leisure in a nutshell
Minsk features several sci-pop lecture halls styled after “Kurilka Gutenberga” (literally “Gutenberg’s Smoking Room”) where you can come to listen and talk about the complex stuff: neural networks, big data, ISS robots and tyrannosaurs.
- “Massaraksh. Minsk” (formerly “Gutenberg’s Smoking Room”) runs monthly lectures, sometimes in Minsk’s most unexpected locations (planetariums and nightclubs). The guys bring awesome speakers and are capable of talking about science in a clear manner, and propaganda-free—about politics and religion.
- CreativeMornings is an international sci-pop project that made its way to Belarus. Its format is monthly lectures-breakfasts (20–25 minutes per lecture plus 40 minutes for Q&A and discussion) with the city’s key creative people. How about breakfast with a PR woman hosting a series of “dreams come true” parties at the “Hooligan” bar, or a publicist who started making jam all of a sudden? A great place for intelligent conversations and finding business and travel partners.
- 34travel Day is not a sci-pop at all, but an unobtrusive lecture space on how to travel in a fun, economic and conscious way, on the practical experience and philosophy of traveling around the world and Belarus. The event is organized every few months by the guys from the 34mag.net project about Belarusian culture.
- TEDxMinsk: the first live TEDxMinsk with Belarusian speakers took place in 2013. Be sure to attend the event to dive deeper into the Belarusian context (for example, to learn the ways of using social media in Belarus so as to become a cybercriminal) and to think about topical, supranational topics—just like at the classic TED. Tickets are always sold out within hours after the start of sales—don’t miss yours. By the way, last spring Minsk hosted the first-ever special TEDxYouth@Minsk event featuring open-minded and warm-hearted high school students who managed to launch their technology, culture and inclusion projects in Belarus.
- And en route to work, we recommend the podcasts created by Belarusians that will also help you learn something new about the world around you.
- Minsk Knowledge Office club positions itself as a platform for discussing and solving business problems. But the discussion topics aren’t limited to practice alone—business philosophy is talked about, too. Meetings often end in heated debates. All in all, if you are tired of ‘superficial floating,’ come here to contemplate higher business matters.
- ProWomen By promotes women’s entrepreneurship in Belarus. The goal is to educate, inspire and unite women entrepreneurs. All events organized by ProWomen By (Women Talk lectures, discussions, workshops) are free. If you could use business 101 or, on the contrary, have something to share with others—this venue will get you what you are looking for.
- Imaguru is the first business club in Belarus to unite Belarusian startups, business angels and venture investors. The venue runs meetups, trainings, hackathons non-stop. Come here for advice or inspiration, to build useful connections or do some work. They offer coworking space, too.
- HTP Business Incubator (1/5 Kuprevich Street) runs events for beginners and advanced investors and startups almost daily.
Communication in English
There are several projects in Minsk that regularly hold informal meetings for locals, expats and travelers where you can improve your English in a relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea, a glass of wine or a board game.
- Couchsurfing meetings are weekly meetings of couchsurfers, travelers and other folks who care; most locals, travelers and expats come to these to meet new people and practice spoken English. The meeting place always varies, most often it’s a café or a bar.
- Minsk English Conversation Club is a conversation club that has been running its meetings every Monday for nearly a decade now at “LIDO” bistro restaurant on 49/1 Nezavisimosti Ave. Communication starts at 7.30pm, the guys traditionally occupy the tables near the entrance. Normally, about 30 people attend, a fifth of them are usually foreigners.
- KickStart English Club is the right fit for board game fans. Meetings are held weekly by cheerful John Weaver, a teacher from Birmingham, also a co-founder of an English language school—keep this one in mind if you want a thorough overhaul of your language skills.
- English on Board Minsk offers meetings with board games and speed dating in English, organized by English teachers Anna Belaya and Elena Sopot.
- Brainiacs Pub Quiz is held exclusively in English, is about English (slang, idioms) and English-speaking culture (music, movies, history, politics, celebrities). The games are traditionally happening over a glass of beer, wine, coffee or whatever it is you wish.
- Toastmasters Minsk is for those wishing to improve public speaking skills in English, present boldly and confidently at international conferences, and pitch their projects to investors. Meetings are held at SUP venue (11/1 Masherov Ave). Other interesting events do happen here, too: for instance, a workshop on kick-off with customers or soft skills.
Programming, English and soft skills development for children
Three main locations in Minsk offer activities for children and teenagers to develop their leadership capacity, creative ‘outside-the-box’ thinking, entrepreneurial skills.
- TeenGuru Business Academy (4 Fabritsiusa Str.) is a business academy by Imaguru for children and teenagers. Tutors (businessmen and top managers) teach to create text and video content, business projects, invent startups and help develop soft skills—defending a point of view, keeping personal budget, finding rare information, public speaking and day planning.
- Deti-MBA Belarus (16 Oktyabrskaya Str.) is another business school for 5–11-graders; in addition to starting a business and startups, teenagers can learn Business English and branding—creation of corporate identity.
- IT Princess Academy (5/310 Pobediteley Avenue), STEM education for girls aged 7–15: from programming to creating a fashion collection.
- Scratch (14 Skryganova Str.) is a Hi-Tech Park’s educational project where children are trained cohesive and logical thinking and learn how to write programs in Scratch language.
- “Smart Minsk” project (10 Pugachevskaya Str.) helps children aged 6–14 fall in love with natural sciences by convincing them that science is not boring—it’s fun and very practical. Classes are held in the format of interactive lectures in classrooms and experiments in laboratories.
- ICAN Club (51 Korolya Str.) is an IBA Institute’s educational project for those wishing to improve their spoken English. There’s one for children and one for adults.
Irina Gorbach, The Village Belarus