Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer school in the Balkans: "Expertise kept pouring in"

Below incoming SAIS Europe student Jasmina Hodzic from Bosnia & Herzegovina writes about a summer program she participated in along with Prof. Justin Frosini and Sylvia Staneva, who attended SAIS Europe last year and is at SAIS DC this year.

I was so eager to start my SAIS experience that in the spring before the start of the school year I decided to apply for a summer school organized by the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD).

The CCSDD is a think tank jointly founded by SAIS Europe and the University of Bologna's law school. It conducts research and training in comparative constitutional law with particular focus on countries in democratic transition.

The Center embodies SAIS Europe's close ties to the University of Bologna and its host city, its commitment to policy research and the opportunities SAIS offers its students to broaden their horizons outside of the classroom.

I received good news a couple weeks after submitting my application when the CCSDD, in a note almost as enthusiastic as my motivation letter, admitted me to their week-long conference on the constitutional implications of European Union expansion in countries of East and Southeast Europe.

On July 14 I found myself in Igalo, a beautiful Montenegrin town in the picturesque bay of Boka Kotorska, squeezed between a tall, rocky mountain and the Adriatic Sea.

I was one of 25 participants in the conference from all over Europe – and I don’t mean only the EU. There were students and scholars of constitutional law and political science from all over the former Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Together we engaged in a week of intense discussion about democratic transitions in the context of EU enlargement and the effect such tumultuous changes have had on the legal setup of the countries in question.

Jasmina Hodzic, Prof. Frosini and Syliva Staneva (SAIS Europe 2012-13)
Examples abounded in the very neighborhood: from Croatia which just recently joined the EU, to other countries of former Yugoslavia who are yet to get there, to participants' countries from outside the region.

Expertise kept pouring in.

Such a diversity of ideas and experiences made this a very impressive and unique exchange.

Perhaps most impressive were the organizers, professors from the CCSDD and the University of Belgrade. We joined them in their celebration of the 10th anniversary of the summer school, co-directed by Prof. Frosini, CCSDD director and adjunct professor at SAIS, and Prof. Stevan Lilić of the University of Belgrade.

The combination of high spirits, warm July weather and small town Montenegro gave this academic conference a friendly and familiar feel. It is in such a mood that my time at SAIS has begun.

Jasmina Hodzic (SAIS Europe 2013-14)

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