‘The land of opportunities’

One of the great advantages of studying (and working in) international relations in New York is that all of the major international organisations are concentrated here and there’s also a myriad of NGOs, think tanks and institutions, some of them very unique to the city, “very New York” – deserving of this label both because of their special focus and their history as cultural hubs of the city. If we want to kind of put this in perspective, this basically means that international relations are happening right around us, every day, and it doesn’t just start and end at the United Nations.

An added advantage to this is the BGIA program itself – it is so established and well-connected that us, students, often get invitations through the program to participate in various panels, conferences and forums at these iconic institutions with some of the greatest experts in the field. I try to seize all of these opportunities, and in the past couple of weeks we’ve had quite a lot of these.

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The Foreign Policy Association invited us to its 17th Annual World Leadership Forum. This year, the Foreign Policy Association decided to shift the Forum’s focus towards China and its relations with the United States, which I found particularly interesting as during my undergraduate studies in International Relations in Hungary we talked very little about China –  but we have to admit that in the 21st century, China is an actor that simply cannot be ignored anymore.The Forum was a comprehensive, all-day event that consisted of 5 panels and a luncheon. Just focusing on a luncheon for a bit – I generally still get intimidated attending events where I get my own name tag, but this luncheon was definitely the most intimidating part of the Forum. Taking place at the Harvard Club of New York, on this sunny afternoon we were joined for lunch by a very impressive interior design that included close-to-life-size elephant statue (?), several leading professionals from academia, business, and government, and also the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, sitting right next to the table that me and the other BGIA students shared with cadets from the West Point and Norwich military academies – because, hey, we’re all students after all, let’s stick together in these difficult times when we try to figure out which fork to use first to make it seem like we’re civilized people who belong to places like this!

The whole BGIA group attended a presentation by Michael W. Doyle, Director of Columbia University’s Global Policy Initiative (whose seminal theories on democratic peace I studied even at Corvinus in Budapest) at the State University of New York Global Center. He talked about a new model treaty on international migration and mobility that he and his colleagues have been working on as an updated, more comprehensive version of the current regimes. The model treaty apparently includes incentives for skeptical, anti-immigration countries to participate, which was interesting for me to consider in light of the current politics back in Hungary.

The Council on Foreign Relations (also a “very New York” institution) also held its annual Back-to-School event recently – kind of awkwardly, already way into the semester, closer to midterms than first-day-of-school. Eve, who I intern with at Oxford Analytica, and I represented BGIA at this event where we were joined by students of Yale, NYU and multiple other colleges and high schools in the area. The activities included a panel, the theme of which was the future of globalization, where the panelists heavily focused on the effects that the United States’ abandonment of many international regimes such as the Paris Climate Agreement, TTIP and UNESCO and thus (sort of) its international leadership position, could have on the global balance of power.

 

Finally, just this last weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend 2 days at Bard College’s main campus upstate in Annandale-on-Hudson, as they invited the PIE students and us Kellner scholars to participate in a symposium they organised to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. I thought this could be an interesting topic to talk about, as there is actually strangely very little focus on this important anniversary, both and U.S. and also in Russia even. Not the least, this was a great chance for me to take a quick look at the campus where I’m going to live in the spring semester! I don’t want to lie – arriving there was pretty shocking after almost 2 months of living in New York. It’s pretty crazy that in two hours I went from Times Square to basically the middle of a forest where there were deer and squirrel and no people and I could see the stars in the sky. Luckily, campus life seemed pretty easy to get used to, and it definitely helped that the area surrounding Bard is all dressed in beautiful colors as fall has definitely arrived to New York state.

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