Learning Outside the Office
One of my favorite aspects about my internship at NDI is the encouragement for interns to go out and explore lectures and events at other institutions. My bosses send me multiple emails throughout the week of interesting lectures about women’s participation in the Balkans, post-USSR development in Eastern Europe, etc for me to explore. When NDI interns attend outside events, we are required to take notes and then either type them up and send them to our entire regional DC staff, or make a presentation at our next all staff meeting.
One of the first events I attended was titled ” The Role and Impact of women in Lawmaking in Kosovo” and it was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center on Capitol Hill. Four women from the National Albanian American Council (NAAC) Hope Fellowship Program from Kosovo presented on Kosovo’s gender quota law, domestic violence issues, issues female representatives and politicians face in Kosovo’s government as well as the relationship between state and non-state actors in building programs and advancing female leaders in Kosovo.
Only a week after I attended this event, four different Hope Fellows came and spoke at an event at NDI! I helped set up this event. Their presentation themes were similar to those at the Woodrow Wilson Center event. Women in Kosovo politics face a number of challenges that go beyond the stereotypes and difficulties women face in other countries. One way that Kosovo’s government has attempted to combat these issues is with the establishment of a gender quota law–which requires a certain number of female representatives in all levels of local, regional and national government. This law is controversial, as there are a number of positive characteristics but some still feel that this law is not doing enough to advance the position of women in Kosovo politics. I enjoyed hearing these fantastic and very accomplished female leaders from Kosovo speak and share their experiences.
Later in June, I attended an event at The Heritage Foundation titled “Central Europe — The Indispensable Region”. Dr. Tibor Navracsis spoke about Central European cooperation win Atlanticism and European perspectives as well as its experience in democratic economic and political transitions.
Dr. Navracsics, currently the deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration and Justice in Hungary believes that Central Europe has been increasingly more ignored in American strategic planning and foreign diplomacy. He described three reasons (1. Central Europe is important to sustaining balance of power, 2. Central Europe is an “interface” region, and 3. Central Europe is an indispensable region because it is a success story) as to why Central Europe (not exclusively Hungary) is indispensable not only to Europe’s advancement, but to the international community as a whole. I found this talk especially interesting because, as the speaker noted, the United States does not put a lot of diplomatic emphasis on Central Europe as it is no longer deemed a major critical area. However, it was refreshing to hear the Central European perspective on the issue. Central European countries feel that they are success stories in the field of democratic and economic traditions, and they hope that major powers such as the United States utilize their experiences and use it to further their missions abroad.
Its always nice to get out of the office and see what other organizations are doing, and figuring out how the information presented to me at these events can help further my departments projects abroad. 🙂