The 23rd annual conference produced by the Forum 2000 Foundation paid homage to the promising ideology that existed during 1989 during the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution. Topics covered a broad range of global perspectives and were even held in different languages with experts, journalists, political representatives, and academics participating from around the world. If you had told me just one semester ago that I would have the opportunity to not only attend several sessions of this conference, but actually contribute to the functioning of the programming, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The Forum 2000 Foundation has several different internship positions available to students visiting for one semester, and I decided to cooperate with them to serve as a reporting intern. I met with my supervisor a few times prior to the conference itself to discuss which subjects I was interested in, what sessions I would like to attend and report on, and how else I could contribute to the conference.
The conference itself was a three-day blur of panels covering politics, social movements, economics, and human development, with an hour break or so between each one. This was all held in Zofin Palace, a beautiful building that offers a stunning setting to the event. The discussions ranged from analyzing student social movements and the role of technology in current protests to debates about democracy and capitalism. Although the theme of the conference was based on reflecting democratic and social themes of 1989, all of the panels were applicable to current events.
I was required to attend six meetings throughout the three days and create short reports afterward to pass along to media outlets for press releases. I was fortunate enough to cover topics that were very interesting to me — from student movements in Latin America (in Spanish) to a debate about the global opinion of America and the current presidency — which made reporting more interesting than taxing. The work itself took less than an hour to complete after each session, which left plenty of time for me to attend other panels at the conference.
One of the most unique experiences was attending a panel discussing Catalonia and Spain that occurred only about two hours after the Supreme Court indicted several leading Catalan protest leaders and sentenced them to long prison terms. The panel had supporters, dissenters, moderators, and an active audience. The room was electric, the panelists were passionate, and there was not a silent moment in the conversation. This particular panel exemplified the experience of being present and participating in discussions about current events, ideologies, and their implications that the entire conference stands for. It was an amazing learning experience.
Even if you are not considering working as an intern for the foundation, I highly recommend putting your name down a few months in advance to be approved to attend a few panels within the conference. The conference attracts skilled speakers in each topic and provides a great setting for discussion and analysis. They take place in many different parts of the world and offer return opportunities for interns if they find themselves near another conference. I am grateful to NYU Prague for connecting me with this opportunity and for Forum 2000 for giving me such an incredible experience.