Spending the summer in Central Europe, to attend AIPES program (American Institute of Political and Economic Studies), was a life-changing experience for Serhiy Sokyrka, a senior, majoring in International Business Administration and Julia Dyadyuk, a sophomore majoring in International Relations and Development. AIPES takes place annually at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic and hosts participants from more than 40 countries. Serhiy and Julia had a chance to deepen their knowledge in politics and economics as well as spend some time traveling around Europe.
How did you find out about AIPES and why you decided to participate?
Julia: I saw a Facebook post by Margarita Pavlovič, Student Life VP, about the opportunity and got interested. Since I am majoring in International Relations and Development, everything connected to politics and economics is interesting for me. AIPES provides students a chance to participate in classes and learn the theoretical part, and later implement it in real life. I participated in AIPES this past summer and it has been extremely beneficial in different aspects.
Serhiy: I found out about the program from my friend who participated a year before me. She shared about her experience and how it is a wonderful opportunity to travel around Central Europe, to learn new things from professionals, while earning nine credits through Charles University that can be applied towards the LCC credits. It was possible for me to participate in the program as a recipient of a full scholarship provided by the partnership of LCC and The Fund for American Studies. I could not have afforded to go without this funding. I went on the AIPES program in the Summer of 2018, and if I had a chance, I would definitely do it again.
Could you share about the program and what your schedule was like?
Serhiy: AIPES is focused on both academics and the integration of different cultures to the Central European life that Prague has to offer. The organizers of the program provided us with a chance to travel around the area. We also went on field trips to Vienna, Austria and Nuremberg, Germany. During our time in these places, we had cultural nights where we presented our countries and traditions. In terms of the classes, we had a chance to experience actual trade with a trade fair in our Economy class. The most interesting class to me was Conflict Studies with Professor Ibrahim Al Marashi. His teaching style was interesting and informative.
Julia: There was a good balance between formal and informal events organized within the program itself. During formal occasions, everyone would dress up nicely, but we also had informal dinners where we had a chance to talk to the program director, Matt Kwasiborski, and professors in a more relaxed environment. This is how we actually got to know everyone on a more personal level. One of the most interesting classes for me was the class called The Good Society. In class, we discussed the possibility of building a perfect society and making people responsible for their own deeds. We also had Political Economy and Conflict Studies, which were core classes that ran throughout the entire three-week program. Additionally, we had guest lecturers from different countries. A former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia and a PR Director of NATO from Ukraine were two of our guest lecturers. The highlight in Conflict Studies class was an actual simulation where the students acted as representatives of different countries working to solve different issues. It gave us the opportunity to implement our theoretical knowledge into practice and also demonstrated how conflicts can sometimes bond different countries together.
Each year AIPES has participants from more than 40 countries. Were there any shocking revelations about the cultures present at the program?
Julia: I am accustomed to LCC and its international environment, so there were no big shocks for me. However, there were students from countries which I have never encountered before.
Serhiy: It was surprising to me how similar different countries are in terms of traditions and even music. For example, some people from African countries were listening to their traditional music, and I noticed how similar it was to Ukrainian music. This was pleasantly shocking and surprising for me.
Would you recommend others to participate in AIPES?
Julia: I believe the program would prove to be beneficial for those who are interested in politics and economics. It is an amazing opportunity to broaden your worldview and see how other countries deal with the same issues.
Serhiy: Participating in AIPES is a life-changing opportunity to study, travel around Europe and meet new people from all over the world.