Like many of us, I’ve taken a tour de force through my calendar to review 2016. The many highlights of diplomat visits and social events ISH added to my year, truly show how this place is so much more than other residences.
Just two weeks after my arrival, ISH hosted the Global Leadership Awards Dinner, an amazing event with ISH residents, Members of Congress, and the diplomatic community meeting at the residence to honor outstanding contributors to international understanding. This year, Senator Ed Markey was recognized for his work on congressional leadership, together with Congressmen Ed Royce and Eliot Engel for their Leadership in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. As an international student, attending this event was a wonderful opportunity to get a first glimpse at political Washington. As part of the event, I was honored to personally meet diplomatic representatives from Georgia and the Netherlands, as well as our German Ambassador Peter Wittig and his wife Huberta von Voss-Wittig. What an exciting start to my stay at ISH!
This political highlight of the year is only the pinnacle of the many opportunities the ISH staff and residents arrange. As a student of international affairs, two events stand out for me as absolute highlights this semester: a visit to Gallup’s DC HQ with a fascinating talk on their World Poll, and two of the many ambassadorial and political visits to ISH: one by Assistant Secretary Kolker from the Department of Health and Human Services and another, recently, by Jonathan Cohen, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia with Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.
Students, researchers and political interns- many of us are here to learn about both US policy making and the inner workings of international affairs. So, as scholars of public international affairs with leadership ambitions, it is through these visits that we closely engage with policy debates and policy, making in a unique setting. I am grateful to the Board, ISH supporters and partners like Young Professionals in Foreign Policy for enabling these opportunities.
At ISH we understand that international exchange is multidimensional: community life therefore encompasses political exploration and debate, as well as many cultural events. In partnering with the Embassy Series, we had the pleasure of hearing pianists Laylo Rikhsieva and Christopher Schmitt bring us the joys of Chopin, Mozart for concert evenings in the great hall. In the cultural realm, too many of us are eager to learn about American culture and history. Hence, the generous offer for a tour of the Fords Theatre was received with much delight among many residents, and so where tickets to concerts of the Choral Arts Society in DC. I speak for many of my friends here at ISH when I say that attending these cultural events offer opportunities we would not have otherwise.
Last but not least: What defines life at ISH is the many smaller events we organize as residents to learn about each other. This semester, they ranged from an Italian reception with great wine and food to a much-loved Latin dance party to a discussion on political turmoil in Brazil or on the American electoral system. The value of these exchanges is immense: Not only do we learn about each-others’ home countries, we get an opportunity to discuss intimately many remaining questions, misunderstandings or ideas to innovate for a better world.
A close-knit, open-minded, creative community, buzzing with ideas and curiosity is what I’ve found in my first semester at ISH. How blessed I am to be staying here for another one!