FIR members of European Horizons visited a conference at Yale University
Members of European Horizons at the Faculty of International Relations, a chapter of the student-led transatlantic think tank, attended the European Student Conference 2018 at one of the most prestigious universities in the world – Yale University. In an exclusive interview with Kateřina Hošková and Martin Vokálek, we discussed their participation at the conference and work of European Horizons.
Kateřina and Martin, you represented the Faculty of International Relations at the European Student Conference 2018 at Yale University, what was the conference about?
KH: The European Student Conference (ESC) is one of European Horizons’ (EuH) international conferences. This conference takes place annually at Yale University, EuH’s home university, and focuses on current issues of the European Union and the future of transatlantic relations.
MV: This year, over 100 students from prestigious universities in the US, Europe and Asia attended the conference to develop policy papers on six predefined areas. Thanks to the support of VŠE: a research project led by our academic supervisor Ing. Josef Bič, Ph.D., and a scholarship from the Faculty of International Relations, we managed to get the trip funded and represented the first and only chapter of European Horizons in the Czech Republic.
Tell us more about European Horizons, how and when did you join the student club?
MV: My friend and colleague from the Academic Senate was in autumn 2016 at the inception of EuH at Sciences Po, Paris. We agreed that establishing a first Czech chapter of European Horizons could be the crowning moment of our student activities and endeavours at the University of Economics, Prague. Moreover, there was not a student club focusing on the EU. Hence, we and our friends founded European Horizons at the University of Economics, Prague. We will soon celebrate our first birthday and during such a short time span, our members managed to participate in three major international conferences in Germany, Belgium and now in the US.
KH: I joined European Horizons at the University of Economics, Prague in June 2017; I am one of the very first members of the student club after its establishment. At present, I am in charge of organising events, especially workshops, which are mini-conferences with international guests from leading European universities. In less than a year, we have organised two of these workshops and several student debates with distinguished guests at the university. Our events are open to everyone, students outside the club are welcome to attend. In addition, some of us are engaged in publishing with other EuH members.
What was the programme of the conference, and who was the most interesting person you met there?
MV: After brief acculturation in the city that never sleeps, we went to Yale University with fellow conference participants. We stayed in two to three-person groups with local students and thanks to that, we had the possibility to experience student life at Yale. The conference programme itself was very intense – there were debates with high-level politicians and experts but also meetings with our respective teams to work on our policy papers. We discussed them in terms of content and possible improvements with experts in the field as well as other participants.
KH: For me, the most exciting part was cooperating with two former Presidents of the European Parliament and advisors of my workshop, Enrique Barón Crespo and Josep Borell. It was an honour and above all, a great source of inspiration and information to be directed and revise the paper with the help of such experts.
What was the most powerful experience for you?
MV: The most powerful experience was that we were among more than 100 students of the most prestigious universities in the world who are trying to discuss and address important European and transatlantic issues.
KH: The first powerful experience was the ubiquitous sense of belonging and enthusiasm of all participants at the conference. The second one was experiencing multiple acclaims from the EuH Management for our chapter’s work. This confirms that we have achieved great results in less than a year, and our Prague team is one of the best in the world.
What else does EuH do at university?
MV: Students can go to similar interesting international conferences or take part in many events we organise at the University of Economics, Prague. They differ from other events – they are smaller because we do not want to lead them as lectures but lively discussions where everyone can get involved and present their views. It is important to mention that we organise events in English as well as in Czech.
KH: By the end of this semester, some members are going to attend the European Youth Event at the European Parliament’ seat in Strasbourg. The event will bring together around 8,000 young people from around the world to discuss and reflect on visions of the European Union with its decision makers.
Not only about this event, but also other events, we regularly inform on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EuHPrague/) and our website (http://europeanhorizons.vse.cz). Follow us and visit one of our events, you will not regret it!
Martin Vokálek (25) is a second-year graduate student of International Politics and Diplomacy with a minor specialisation in Project Management. Former Vice-Chairman of the Academic Senate at the Faculty of International Relations and Member of the Academic Senate of the University of Economics, Prague. He has also worked as a mentor of the Mentoring Programme at FIR. He acts as Office & Project Manager at the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy. He is one of the founders of European Horizons at the University of Economics and is currently Vice-President of the chapter.
Kateřina Hošková (22) is a second-year undergraduate student of International Business (IBB), an English-taught programme. Kateřina is a member of the English section of the FIR PR Team and is a provider of English content and proofreader of the website and social media. She is also a member of the VŠE Ambassadors – a group of students who represent their international degree programmes and facilitate communication between the University Management and their peers. She joined European Horizons in June 2017 and currently works there as Project Manager.