Seven CIEE Exchange Program alumni were chosen to attend an Obama Town Hall in Berlin, where President Barack Obama will engage young people from across Europe in discussions about the importance of community leadership and civic engagement. Obama Town Hall attendees are emerging leaders who are doing inspiring work to advance positive change in their communities. The CIEE alums selected to attend the event come from diverse backgrounds and represent many different countries. From environmental advocacy, to public infrastructure or human rights, they are passionate about changing the world for the greater good. Let's meet the CIEE alums who will be in Berlin tomorrow:
Elena is an aspiring entrepreneur currently working as a manager of Innovify Ventures, a London-based digital startup studio for ambitious founders with great ideas. Previously, she worked in several tech startups and now she is one of the mentors for the CIEE eLab in London. Elena is an alum of the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit and the Scholar-Leaders Program of General Electric Foundation, one of the most prestigious corporate scholarships.
A graduate of literary and philosophical studies in French and Spanish, Conor is passionate about all things social justice and social change, in particular, transforming communities through enterprise, courageous action and carefully chosen words. In the past, he was involved in various civil-disobedience movements and volunteering initiatives. Currently, Conor is on a mission to raise funds for the Rape Crisis Network Ireland by running as many marathons as possible in as many different places as possible. Conor's philosophy of life is Treat the Stranger as your Friend.
Following his exchange experience, Paul switched from a career in law to politics in order to become the kind of leader that the future depends on. As a part of his work on transparency in the decision-making process in Romania, he collaboratively published a political map of the distribution power in the Romanian Parliament that has been an excellent resource to help journalists, interest groups, politicians, and the general public understand who holds power and influence in the country.
Paul will attend the World Justice Project's World Justice Forum hosted in The Hague, Netherlands on the theme ‘Realizing Justice for All’ with support of a CIEE Exchange Ambassador Grant.
Along with fellow Civc Leadership Summit alum Guxim Klinaku, Gresë created “Keep it Green”, an NGO that aims to create a community where youth is empowered to act on environmental protection. The first edition of Green Art Fest, in 2017, focused on raising awareness on air pollution and the damage that power plants cause in Kosovo. In 2018, the Green Art Fest, focused on personal actions towards a better environment in the future. Recently, they completed “Solar Camp”, a three-day outdoor camp that included trainings on the potential of Kosovo’s solar energy production. Keep it Green helped to create the approval of the first environmental law in Kosovo, which gives the city of Obiliq a special status as a hazardous environmental area.
Céline worked for Alembic Community Development, a real estate development and consulting firm dedicated to strengthening low-income communities and the non-profit organizations that serve them. She volunteered for a nonprofit organization Lower Nine, dedicated to rebuilding homes for pre-Katrina residents in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the city’s poorest neighborhood, devastated by the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. In 2018, Celine created an app to help people explore New Orleans differently. The app suggest many places to eat and shop local, to find a home, to make friends, and more. Back in France, Céline is currently working for a social innovation start-up incubator helping entrepreneurs successfully launch, grow, and scale their businesses. She is an entrepreneur herself tackling the single-use plastics problem by implementing a deposit refund system in take-away restaurants.
Anna Ūdre is a freelance journalist with work experience reporting for Latvia’s national radio, national newspapers, and leading online media in Latvia. Her areas of engagement have encompassed hard news, feature stories, investigative journalism, and exposing disinformation. In Washington, DC, she worked closely with the U.S. Congress, administration, and other key institutions on advocating for Baltic issues with the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC). After returning home, she received Acknowledgement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia for significant contribution to strengthening bilateral relations between Latvia and the U.S. Anna’s claim to fame is having been recognized by President Donald Trump at the press conference he held when the three Baltic presidents visited Washington in Spring 2018. Anna continues to work as a professional journalist in Latvia having established many American professional contacts across multiple fields.
Ann Mirjam Vaikla is the director of NART— Narva Art Residency located on Estonia / EU’s border with Russia. It has a focus on international vs. local community building in Narva city through creative interactions of arts, architecture, and education. She is the initiator of an international platform for the study of urban geography: Narva Urban Lab. The first Lab carried a title: “Narva-Detroit: Postindustrial Cities on the Border - Where to?” noting several meeting points between the two cities and showing a potential to initiate a sister-city relationship.
You can follow the experiences of the CIEE alumni attending the Obama Town Hall using the hashtags #CIEEAlum and #ObamaTownHallEurope.
The Obama Town Hall will also be live streamed on Saturday, April 6 at 3:15pm CEST/9:15am EDT at obama.org, or you watch it below: