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ALUMNI EXPERIENCES


Anna Boros, Hungary, MAEIS 1997/98 - NATO Assistant, Performance Review and Development
“Unity in diversity” was not just a slogan you heard in the classroom but one you experienced. Spending a year in a friendly and multi-cultural environment was very memorable. The experience was enriching and invaluable in my learning the true meaning of diversity. As a student visiting the Council of Europe and NATO HQ, I never dreamt I would one day go on to work at both institutions. Encouraged by the faculty, I built upon the research work done to start PhD studies. I will forever be grateful.


Jeff Bridgford, United Kingdom, MAEIS 1973/74 - Special Adviser, Non-Executive Director, European Trade Union Institute
My year at the European Institute was very enjoyable and beneficial in many ways. It provided a basis for further postgraduate qualifications, at the universities of Manchester, Strasbourg and Newcastle upon Tyne, and then a first career in higher education in France and the United Kingdom. It encouraged me to feel comfortable in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual environment, which stood me in good stead when I became the founding Director of the European Trade Union College in 1990. Finally, it opened my eyes to the pleasures of the Mediterranean, a region which I have been regularly visiting since and to which I will be returning full time in the near future.


Isabel Dimitrov, Bulgaria/Canada, MAEIS 2014/15 - Community Engagement Advisor for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Cargill
I recall what attracted me to the programme in the  rst place: learning and living in three dynamic cities, the interdisciplinary nature of the modules, and the small but diverse class size.
The experience was all of this and more – it was truly transformative. My classroom was not only what I learned from my professors, it was what I learned everyday in class and outside of class with my classmates, as we discovered our cities, uncovered each other’s perspectives, and challenged our world views in ways we never thought possible. I thank CIFE for creating such a unique environment for its students to thrive in ways which go beyond the conventional route of learning – it is after all, that by doing things in a not so ordinary way that we can achieve the extraordinary
.


Tina Djepovska, MAEIS Anglophone branch 2010/11, Macedonia - Head of Unit, Office of the State Secretary, Foreign Ministry of Macedonia
"My CIFE experience made me realise that today’s challenges can only be tackled effectively, if countries unite their efforts and combine their knowledge and experience. The internationally inspired CIFE community has opened new possibilities for my career, and their training initiatives have further helped develop my academic and professional portfolios. I have been working as an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia for 5 years now after having  the pleasure to be part of the IE-EI Anglophone branch. This experience has provided the background necessary for me to anticipate and react to Europe’s ever-changing circumstances. I continued with my career goals after completing the Master Programme, which was further upgraded with my selection to be a part of the “Fellowship Programme for Young Government Officials from the Western Balkans: Supporting Excellence and Leadership in Governance”, 2012/2013. The Institute was the essential element of my academic training, encouraging me to sharpen and enrich my European sentiments and enforce its values in my home institution and country. This was definitely an experience to remember and pursue."


Dalibor Dvorny, Croatia, MAEIS 2003/04 - Deputy Head of Prime Minister’s Office / Government of Croatia
The time at the Institute certainly did provide me with countless practical insights, and even more importantly, it had so much impact on my personal perspective and point of view. Seeing the European Union and strong regional and international cooperation as crucial element of solution to those challenges, would probably be the most obvious example. It was a truly unique experience for my friends and me! As a standard feature you get interesting lectures and involving lecturers, but the programme gave us a lot more – international and multilingual real life experience and, of course, lifelong friendships.


Marina Filcheva, Bulgaria, MAEIS, trilingual branch 2007/08 - Consultant at UNICEF Brussels EU Office in Belgium
After graduating at the European Institute, I first gained valuable experience working in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels, as well as in the European Parliament. I became passionate about the work of UNICEF during my traineeship at ECOSOC in the UN Head Quarters in New York (2010), which motivated me later on to continue my career at UNICEF Brussels. I cannot say that the road towards an international career, especially nowadays, is easy. But for sure, at least for me, all the efforts have been worth it! Thank you for giving me the best start in this difficult, but very exciting journey!


Erwan Fouéré, Ireland MAEIS 1968/69 - European Commission Official in charge of Enlargement Policy and Communication, Former EU Special Representative and Head of the Commission Delegation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Institute was an essential element of my academic training. My year of studies was a large contributing factor to shaping and reinforcing my European sentiments. I was particularly inspired by the primal importance of the respect for human values, respect for different state political structures (notably federalism). Later, during my professional career, particularly in the posts I held in Latin America and also more recently in South Africa, I was able to put into practice this knowledge and my beliefs.


Selim Güvener, Turkey/United Kingdom, MAEIS Anglophone branch 2005/06 - IP Consultant at World Agroforestry Centre, London
I would consider the year I spent at the Institute as a complete satisfaction of my expectations. The programme was very well adapted to the international student body with different graduate school backgrounds and it provided not only an excellent academic programme but a constant brainstorming on current international and European issues as well. Small working groups made teacher-student relations very easy and fruitful. Visiting lecturers and experts brought in an invaluable practical knowledge which came to complete the academic education provided by the in house professors and lecturers. The Institut européen is a perfect institution for those who seek a career in the international and European sphere and a great place to learn, live and have fun.


Alexander Kleibrink, Germany/Serbia/Montenegro, MAEIS 2005/06 - Researcher at Berlin Graduate School of Transnational Studies
"L'espoir est une mémoire qui désire, le souvenir est une mémoire qui a joui." In the vein of Balzac we were lucky to have gained many valuable memories. Particularly one event forged thirty very different young people from all over Europe and Asia into a group of friends. On one of our many trips a heavy snowstorm had us stuck at the airport in Basle. For the first time, we were without any of our many professors and coordinators who had pampered us and had made our lives until then a comfortable all-inclusive package. So the group had many heated discussions about how to get with no money and strained nerves back to Southern France. At nightfall in the sinister main train station we spent several hours until we finally came up with a solution. We somehow managed to find a hostel for a few hours of sleep and got more than one ton of luggage and a dozen laptops over many stairs and train cabins via Milan to Nice. Nothing could possibly illustrate better what the year meant to us: it was not always easy, but in the end we savoured the moments and are left with common memories.


Tanya Lyubimova, MAEIS trilingual branch 2011/12 - Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Belarus
Now when I look back at the year that I spent at the Institute, I cannot but smile. Studying in three languages, learning in an inclusive, diverse and multicultural environment, travelling all over Europe, acquiring firsthand experience through study trips and guest lecturers, making new lifelong friends, developing practical skills and advancing in my field of interest… It was like living a year in a fairy tale!
Of course, there were difficulties and challenges, but these have faded away over time, leaving much more to cherish and appreciate. I am especially grateful to all of the Institute’s professors and staff, for they provided exactly what I had been looking for in a programme – a very personal, dedicated approach to every student, which inspires, motivates, and let alone helps to engage and understand the material in a more profound way. For me, having enrolled with an academic background unrelated to Political Science or International Relations, this dedication played an especially significant part in my studies. I appreciated most the interactions between students that allowed for each individual to express themselves, along with the advanced and diversified teaching methodologies encompassing up-to-date course content. Moreover, the Institute, and my research adviser in particular, helped me tremendously in shaping up my professional and academic interests, life aspirations and goals.


Mihail Milev, Bulgaria, MAEIS 2003/04 - European Commission, DG Competition
The Master’s Programme of the Institute was my first fully fledged international experience where I enjoyed both high quality education and extremely helpful and accessible professors. I am particularly grateful for having had the rare opportunity to meet scholars, diplomats and professionals from so many different fields of International Relations and European Studies, which broadened significantly my personal understanding of the processes taking place, seen from a wide variety of angles. This approach has helped me a lot throughout my professional career and has allowed me to respond to the challenges of working in a genuine international environment where quick learning and good communication are crucial.


Etion Parruca, Albania, MAEIS 2008/09 - National Monitoring Officer, Head of Presence Office, Political and Public Affairs Unit, OSCE-Presence in Albania
I will always remember fondly my time during the year of Master’s studies at CIFE, as it was a remarkably rich academic, social and cultural experience which resulted in a better understanding of the ties that link us all together in a process of unity in diversity and ever-advancing global civilisation that yearns for co-operation and collective security. In my current work at the OSCE Presence in Albania being tasked to maintain relations with regional and local officials and interlocutors I can’t think of a better academic experience that would have helped me match knowledge with the work in hand. Thank you for the special opportunity that was offered back in 2008, which proved very useful!


Marina Penic-Levada - Croatia, MAEIS 2003/04 Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Directorate for Inter­national Co­operation and European Integration
The year I spent at the Institut européen was definitely a great experience; you happen to meet other students from all over the world, you attend interesting lectures and learn things at first hand, you visit some new places, and you also have the opportunity to practise three foreign languages at the same time. The Master at the Institute was an excellent preparation for my current job that is related to the European affairs. In that year I also made some important friendships and the fact that since our graduation 2004 we haven’t missed any occasion to spend our vacations together is significant enough


Eleonora Pitasso, Italy, MAEIS trilingual branch 2005/06 - General Administrator of a multinational company, Monte Carlo
What I found at the Institute has been the perfect conjunction of flexibility and open-minded attitude. The fact of travelling continuously in different countries and living your daily life with persons from other cultures, makes of you feeling to morally and culturally enrich yourself day-by day. The Institut européen makes of that a proper key-element.


Wolfgang Plasa, Germany, IEHEI 1969/70 - Visiting fellow, European Studies Council, Yale University, New Haven
Since it was my intention to work for the European Commission, it was helpful to meet with active Commission officials who came to teach in Nice. I also largely benefited from the philosophical instruction, which, admittedly, I underrated at the time I received it. I learned to look for alternatives and to approach problems from different angles. I always felt that the IEHEI’s methodology inspires creativity and imposes consistency at the same time. It was a clear advantage to participate in this studium generale.


Oleg Serebrian, Moldova, MAEIS 1992/93 - Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova in France and at the UNESCO
I arrived in Nice some months after the dissolution of the USSR. It was the first time I had visited the Western world and at the same time my first experience with the occidental democracies. It was at that time that I learned about the process of European integration and what it was all about – the way of thinking, of interpreting historical events and facts I had known up to then was different. In 2001, we founded the European Movement of Moldova, a movement promoting the federalist idea here in Moldova. During the first years we organised, in cooperation with the CIFE, the summer university “The European Union and the Region around the Black Sea”. This gave rise to a real new tradition that is about making young people learn about European ideas and make them think differently, which encourages us to jointly organise other new projects like these.


David Spence, Great Britain, MAEIS 1972/73 - Political Counsellor at the European Commission’s Delegation to the international organisations in Geneva
I did the programme before the UK joined the European Community and no university has provided me with a comparable experience. Not only have I become a devoted federalist, my political orientation continues advancing in this direction. Rather, I would not have become the person I am now in terms of my personality as well as my professional development if I had not spent the year in Nice. Of course, I would not work for the Commission without having done European studies and I would not feel so much at home when I visit Nice occasionally.


Arnisa Tepelija,  Albania, MAEIS 2014/15 - Technical Project Assistant for the GIZ in Tirana
The trilingual Master at CIFE provided me with an enriching and mind-broadening experience: Its modus operandi constitutes the defiinition of the Europe of many points of view, of finding a constructive compromise and common solutions. The top-teaching methods from our most honoured lecturers, and the stimulating environment projected me and my brilliant friends-for-life classmates towards our aspirations. A very interesting internship in the German Bundestag expects me only because I took this path and I see many other thrilling projects coming.


Isabelle Weykmans, Belgium, MAEIS 2002/03 - Minister for Culture and Media, the Protection of Buildings and Monuments, Youth and Sports; German-Speaking Community in Belgium
The memories I have of the year I spent in Nice are exclusively positive ones. I enjoyed learning and living with people from different countries and with different personal and academic backgrounds. It was this diversity that was for me the main advantage of this Master programme. Going abroad for one year is something I recommend to anybody! The knowledge I gained is very useful for my current job.

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