One-hundred and sixty-seven promising young leaders from 48 countries gathered in Prague and Hong Kong this summer as part of the 2013 TFAS International programs. Students engaged in cross-cultural exchange, explored the cities where their institutes were held and participated in rigorous courses where they studied economics, politics and conflict resolution.
AMERICAN INSTITUTE ON POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SYSTEMS (AIPES)
AIPES celebrated its most diverse summer yet, welcoming students from the Eastern Mediterranean region in addition to its traditional representative countries from Central and Eastern Europe. This was the first summer since TFAS combined its European programs into a single institute at Charles University in Prague. The blended program allowed a broader spectrum of discussion and cross-cultural exchange.
According to Brikena Meha (AIPES 13) of Kosovo, the diverse make up of students was a highlight of her summer in Prague. “Meeting people with different cultural backgrounds is a wonderful experience because you can learn so many things from each other,” she said. “I appreciate the time I spent in Prague, and I feel that I have a new family now after the program.”
Students completed coursework with professors Michael Collins of Georgetown University, who lectured on “The Good Society,” and Adam Martin of King’s College London, who taught Political Economy. In addition, professor Joshua Mitchell of Georgetown University taught Political Philosophy, while alumna Faten Ghosn (IIPES 98) of the University of Arizona taught the Conflict Management component of the program.
On July 24, students were able to put their conflict management training into action by participating in a model parliament simulation at the Czech Parliament. Students took to the senate floor and used the skills learned through their Conflict Management course to peacefully examine solutions to international issues.
In addition to their courses, students attended a guest lecture series featuring experts on policy, business and economics. These guest lectures included remarks from former foreign ministers Pavol Demesof Slovakia and Dr. Cyril Svoboda of the Czech Republic, as well as IPJ Board of Visitors memberMark Grabowski (IPJ 97) who talked to AIPES students about international conflicts of law.
This summer also marked the 20th anniversary of the first TFAS International program, held in Prague in 1993. To celebrate the milestone, an alumni reunion was held from Aug. 2-5, allowing current AIPES students and TFAS alumni to network and connect.
More than 50 alumni representing classes from 1996 to 2012 participated in educational, social and networking activities throughout the reunion weekend. Highlights include an opening night reception at Hybernska Restaurant, educational panels led by successful TFAS alumni and a student and alumni gathering at Park Letna.
The alumni reunion and 2013 AIPES program came to a close with a commencement ceremony on Aug. 5. Former Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová provided remarks and was presented with the 2013 AIPES Freedom Award. In her acceptance speech, Radičová spoke to the new graduates and attending alumni about democracy, societal changes over the past 100 years and the position of women in politics.
ASIA INSTITUTE FOR POLITICAL ECONOMY (AIPE)
AIPE 2013 kicked off with an opening ceremony on July 6 where Dr. Y.F. Luk of The University of Hong Kong welcomed students and shared a brief history of Hong Kong and its free-market system. The lecture set the stage for a three-week study of the many complex political and economic issues facing today’s world.
Students from 16 countries including Vietnam, Bangladesh, China and India gathered in Hong Kong to interact and learn from each other’s experiences, while studying the works of economist and philosophers such as Friedrick Hayek and Alexis de Tocqueville. For many of the students, the program opened the door to new ways of thinking.
“The program is certainly going to change the way I look upon different issues that are discussed in my classes back home,” said Nepalese student Koshish Acharya (AIPE 13). “The experience of living in Hong Kong and getting to know fellow participants from all over Asia, North America and South America was simply amazing. I had an opportunity to learn a lot about my fellow participants and the situation on liberty in their country.”
Returning for his eighth consecutive year, professor Andrew Morriss of the University of Alabama School of Law taught the AIPE course on Political Economy. Also returning for his second summer with AIPE was professor William Ruger of Texas State University. Ruger taught this summer’s AIPE course on American Studies and Political Philosophy.
Outside of the classroom, AIPE students put their lessons into action by participating in the Hong Kong Night Market activity. The annual event demonstrates first-hand how free-markets allow competition to determine prices. Students also worked on group projects related to their in-class debates and discussions on international trade and business. As part of their projects, students were asked to meet with the owners of several businesses and report back on their findings.
To complete their studies, AIPE students attended special guests lectures by prominent business leaders and academics. Included in this summer’s prestigious lineup of speakers was William J. Hybl, a member of the TFAS Board of Trustees and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation. Hybl spoke to the students on the importance of international education exchange.
Although AIPE 2013 has come to a close, graduates like Srijan Bandyopadhyay (AIPE 13) of India will continue to make an impact. Following the program, Bandyopadhyay said he is “ever more inspired to continue fighting for the spread of liberty and free markets in my country, and across the Asian continent.”
TFAS International is currently accepting applications for the 2014 Institute for Leadership in the Americas program held in Santiago, Chile. To learn more or to apply for the program, visit www.TFASinternational.org/ILA