Home » News » Students From Across Europe, Asia And The Middle East Experience A Cross-Cultural Exchange Of Ideas During 2015 TFAS International Summer Programs

Students From Across Europe, Asia And The Middle East Experience A Cross-Cultural Exchange Of Ideas During 2015 TFAS International Summer Programs



On July 11, the American Institute on Political and Economic Systems (AIPES) kicked off its most diverse summer to date in Prague. With 118 students representing 46 countries, the program was set to be a culturally and academically enriching experience for each of the students from the start.

Lirije Palushi (AIPES 15) of Kosovo was excited to be a part of AIPES because she could meet and interact with a diverse group of students.

“I enjoyed every single day as an AIPES participant,” Palushi said. “It gave me the opportunity to change my way of thinking and to make friends and meet people from all around the world. I think that was the most interesting part about AIPES. We get to learn more from each other, about our cultures, our lifestyle and our beliefs.”

AIPES students completed coursework at Charles University in Prague with professors Dr. Michael Collins of Georgetown University, who lectured on “The Good Society” and Dr. Adam Martin of Texas Tech University, who taught Political Economy. Also joining the respected line up of instructors were Dr.Joshua Mitchell of Georgetown University who taught Political Philosophy and alumnus Dr. Ibrahim Al- Marashi (IIPES 01) of California State University San Marcos who taught the Conflict Management component of the program.

A student asks a question during a AIPES panel discussion on Western values.

On July 30, students participated in a conflict management simulation at the Czech Parliament. Students gathered in the Senate chamber to use the skills they learned through their Conflict Management course to peacefully and strategically examine solutions to international issues.

During the simulation, students worked in teams to learn how conflicts influence countries and their citizens, as well as the relationships between political parties worldwide.

Kaja Karlson (AIPES 15) from Estonia says the simulation was one of the highlights of the program and she learned a lot about the difficulties of negotiation through it. “It taught us about the very complex relationships between the local parties of the Middle East,” Karlson said.

In addition to their courses, students attended guest lectures and panel discussions featuring experts and global leaders in politics, journalism, business and more. These guest lectures included remarks from former foreign minister Pavol Demes of Slovakia, Eliška Coolidge of Coolidge Consulting and Petr Colar, former Czech ambassador to the U.S. and Russia.

Outside of the classroom, students embraced the cultures around them by embarking on tours of Prague and participated in the annual “Cultural Presentation Night” where each student presented a significant part of their culture to their peers.

The AIPES students celebrate their unique backgrounds during the annual Cultural Presentation Night.

Liva Snike (AIPES 15) of Latvia says her AIPES experience is something that will help her grow both professionally and personally.

“AIPES has been a great experience in terms of perspective widening lectures by excellent professors and the possibility to meet and discuss with young people from extremely different countries and backgrounds,” Snike said. “It has given me a lot of incentives and material for reflection.”

The AIPES Class of 2015 celebrated the conclusion of the program on Aug. 3 with a commencement ceremony. Former deputy prime minister and minister of finance of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Miklos, delivered the commencement remarks while accepting the annual AIPES Freedom Award.


The Asia Institute for Political Economy (AIPE) 2015 program kicked off with an opening ceremony on July 4 where Andrew Work, CEO of New Work Media and editor-in-chief of the Harbour Times, welcomed 65 new students to Hong Kong and the TFAS network. Work opened the program by providing an overview of Hong Kong’s vibrant history and how it became the thriving example of economic liberty that it is today. The welcome ceremony and Work’s remarks set the stage for the exciting 21-day study of the many complex political and economic issues facing today’s world.

This summer’s class included representatives from 20 different countries including Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Pakistan. The diverse group of young leaders spent three weeks engaging in dynamic cultural discussion with each other, while studying the works of economists and philosophers who are crucial to understanding a free society.

Students take notes during a program session. AIPE courses are accredited by George Mason University and all classes are conducted at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), internationally recognized as one of the finest institutes of higher learning in Asia.

Top-notch professors brought these ideas to life through classroom lectures, small group discussions and workshop exercises, with courses accredited by TFAS academic partner George Mason University. AIPE welcomed first-time TFAS professor Dr. Brandon Turner from Clemson University who taught the Political Philosophy component during the first half of the program. During the second half of the program, Dr. Nikolai Wenzel of Flagler College returned to AIPE for the second year to teach the Political Economy component of the course.

Binit Gurung (AIPE 15), a student from Nepal, said the academic aspect of the program was an intellectually fulfilling experience for him.

“The classes were fun and interactive,” Gurung said. “We were always encouraged to ask questions, advance our own arguments and share our respective experiences. This way, we got to engage with some important political and economic questions of today’s times.”

For many students like Kranti Pageni (AIPE 15) from Nepal, the academic atmosphere of AIPE helped them grasp new ideas on political economy and philosophy.

“AIPE was a learning experience for me through the theories of Locke, Hume, Tocqueville, the American Constitution, Austrian model of economics and public choice economics in the Political Philosophy and Political Economy classes,” Pageni said. “The extent to which my knowledge increased in these three weeks surpasses all the things that I have learned in my entire life.”

AIPE 2015 graduate Jesmin Nahar (AIPE 15) of Bangladesh proudly accepts her graduation certificate from Asia Programs Director Brigit Moore (left) and Professor Dr. Nikolai Wenzel (right).

In addition to their studies and workshops, AIPE students attended a special guest lecture series and heard from prominent business leaders and academics throughout their three weeks in Hong Kong. Included in this summer’s prestigious lineup of speakers was Jim Thompson of the Crown Worldwide Group; Mark Michelson, chairman of the Asia CEO Forum; Sean O’Neill, consul for political affairs of the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau; and Shai Oster (Novak 00), reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

A social highlight of the AIPE program was the “Cultural Presentation Night” and dinner held in Global Lounge on the Hong Kong University campus. Students experienced firsthand the 20 cultures represented at AIPE through observing traditional songs, dances, clothing and cuisine from each country.

Like many students Michael Chen (AIPE 15) of Malaysia says the program offered him an invaluable experience like no other.

The newly minted TFAS alumni celebrate a summer well spent during their commencement ceremony in Hong Kong.

“AIPE has turned out to be one of the most enriching and enlightening experiences that I ever had,” Chen said. “Apart from substantive knowledge, AIPE has also introduced me to a new mode of learning and sharing. The lectures at AIPE were a burst of information and the eagerness to share the political, economic and cultural ideas and engage in intellectual discourse from the classmates was very refreshing for me.”

The AIPE Class of 2015 officially joined the TFAS alumni network during a commencement ceremony on Friday, July 24. Congratulations to the new graduates!

TFAS International is now accepting applications for the Institute for Leadership in the Americas program held in Santiago, Chile in January. To learn more or to apply for the program, visit www.TFASinternational.org/ILA.



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