Photo: Laura Trimajova (MARS-REERS ’13), pictured at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, a few days before the coronavirus outbreak in late February 2020.
What do you miss most about the Harriman Institute?
I know this might sound like a cliché, but I miss the daily routines of student life at Harriman: getting a cup of coffee on the way to the International Affairs Building, seeing friends in class, learning new things, and then hanging out on campus or in the neighborhood. I also miss the many, many great academic and social events organized by the Institute. I even miss trying to get a good seat in Lehman Library!
What are your favorite reads or podcasts right now?
I’m currently reading two books. Incidentally, they’re both by Columbia alumni. For many years now, I’ve been wanting to read Madeleine Albright’s memoirs, and the lockdown has finally enabled me to dive in. As a Slovak, I find it fascinating to look at the history of Central Europe from Secretary Albright’s perspective. The second book I’m reading is Stars with Stripes, by former US Ambassador to the EU, Anthony Gardner. As far as podcasts go, my daily rotations are various news podcasts covering the EU and global affairs, with some specialized podcasts on the Western Balkans and the US.
What is your favorite experience related to the region?
I remember the first time I arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what an incredible impression Sarajevo made on me. I spent 4 months interning with the UNDP, and during that time I worked on the destruction of small arms and light weapons in different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I believe it was a breaking point in my understanding of the world. Favorite place in the region? Probably a small secret beach on the Montenegrin coast.
Check back regularly to meet other Harriman students and alumni.