In April, seven CIEE Exchange Program alumni attended the Obama Town Hall in Berlin, where young people from across Europe had the opportunity to engage with President Barack Obama in discussions about civic engagement and changing the world for the greater good. Check out the video below where they share their reflections from the event.
Following the Town Hall meeting, we asked each of them what they were inspired to do next.
CONOR DUNNE, IRELAND
WORK & TRAVEL USA AND CIVIC LEADERSHIP SUMMIT FELLOW, 2018
I’ve been inspired to try and scale my efforts and activities in order to impact communities larger than merely my local one through connecting with similar-minded leaders in different parts of the continent...I plan to develop the entrepreneurial side of my [social justice] activities, in order to make them sustainable in the long term.
CÉLINE GORIN, FRANCE
PROFESSIONAL CAREER TRAINING USA, 2016-18
I’ve been inspired to connect entrepreneurs I help build sustainable projects in my main job in Bordeaux, France (at "Le Point Commun" who hosts the social innovation start up incubator I work for) to European initiatives in the same field. [The Town Hall] gave me the energy to also think bigger for my own project in Toulouse, France (En boîte le plat). I plan to develop a training program for other French initiatives who want to benefit from our experience of being the first French initiative to implement a refund deposit system to replace disposable food containers by glass food containers in take away restaurants.
GRESË KOCA, KOSOVO
WORK & TRAVEL USA AND CIVIC LEADERSHIP SUMMIT FELLOW, 2016
After having had the chance to exchange good practices and ideas with so many young leaders working on environmental issues, I've been inspired and empowered to give back to community even more. At the Roundtable, I had the chance to meet an MP from Kosovo, and we have discussed working on an initiative that would bring together the government and civil society to work on a potential campaign and activities that mitigate negative environmental impact in the community.
ELENA OPERA, MOLDOVA
WORK & TRAVEL USA AND CIVIC LEADERSHIP SUMMIT FELLOW, 2015
I’ve been inspired to extend my social impact back in my country Moldova by mentoring for free startups from the local ecosystem. I got in touch with Tekwill - Moldova’s main tech hub created in the framework of the project "Development of Moldova ICT Excellence Center" by Moldovan Association of ICT Companies (ATIC) and we started brainstorming on how we can shape a project that will get Moldavian startup founders to experience London’s startup scene.
PAUL RUNCAN, ROMANIA
WORK & TRAVEL USA, 2014-2017 AND CIVIC LEADERSHIP SUMMIT FELLOW, 2014
I’ve decided to start working on a new political map, which I’d like to have updated in real time, and to use as a framework on which to add new information, such as areas of expertise for each decision maker, stances on different topics or parliamentary proceedings, and as much useful information as possible. In the end, I’d like for it to be a one-stop shop for political influencers and lobbyists, whether they be civil society, corporations, or academics.
ANNA UDRE, LATVIA
BALTIC AMERICAN FREEDOM FOUNDATION (BAFF), 2017-18
I’ve been inspired to develop greater CIEE alumni network (to connect with other like-minded people and connect professionally) and I'd love to help Obama Foundation develop theirs too. For the Foundation to reach its goal (to spot great leaders around the world and support great work) the Foundation needs local partners. I think there's a way we can work together in this way to help spot great work and talents locally (for example, in the Baltics).
ANN MIRJAM VAIKLA, ESTONIA
BALTIC AMERICAN FREEDOM FOUNDATION (BAFF), 2016-17
I want to underline how important this experience was for me - it gave a lot of positive energy and inspiration to continue my mission in creating a welcoming community through arts and culture at the most east end of Europe - at Narva Art Residency in Estonia. Following the Town Hall Europe meeting, I’ve been inspired to continue my mission and journey as the director of Narva Art Residency to bridge and integrate the people of Narva through arts and culture to the rest of the world and vice versa.... Inspired by the Obama Town Hall meeting I've made a decision to enhance the educational aspect of the programming and to enrich the Residency's activities connected with offering a learning space for the Russian speaking youth of Narva who dream of raising their connection with Estonia and the rest of Europe.