European Academy of Diplomacy 2019/2020, my experience A dialogue about the future

Diplomacy is the art of dialogue. During an historic year, during a global pandemic, I had the unique privilege to be part of the Marie-Curie-Promotion of the European Academy of Diplomacy. This is my experience and what it taught me about the dialogues of as for the future.

An unexpected journey through the world of diplomacy

“Nothing in life to be feared; it is only to be understood!” Following this quote by Marie Curie, the patron of the 20th edition of the European Academy of Diplomacy, my way led me from Brussels directly to Warsaw. Having been curious about, what makes the world go round, having the chance to be part of that unique diplomatic programme was the start of an adventure.

Already some months before, I had been visiting Warsaw as a travel agent, however, there was a new journey starting this year. Arriving at the venue, the international vibe could be felt well. Many young participants from all ways of life came together in order to learn about the future of diplomacy, but also to learn more about various countries, biographies, and personal stories.

Meeting the team of the Academy for the first time, President Prof. Dr. Pisarska welcomed us, emphasizing, that the core skill of leadership is not to convince others but to inspire them. Looking back, now this might sound ironical, the first session was dealing with China, presented by Bogdan Góralczyk, a former Polish ambassador. At this time, this seemed far away, but suddenly, those topics should become more salient than thought at the beginning.

A diplomatic crisis

Having planed with a whole year full of regular visits to Warsaw and its wonders, suddenly, a strange little virus, changed my plans and the routine of the whole globe. Firstly, there were some assumptions, that sessions might be resumed in April. Sometimes it seemed, that the pandemic might be just a transitory issue. However, as things turned out to last longer, suddenly, the importance of diplomacy in times of globalisation became very obvious to me.

Trying to change the whole programme online, needed some time to adapt, as spending a whole day in front of the screen, was quite exhausting. Especially, a whole weekend in distance from other participants, made it quite hard to network. Nevertheless, being in lockdown, regular meetings in working groups, contributed to structure the week and support each other that time. Lockdown was especially about reflecting on yourself, where this tasks given to us on a monthly basis supported this process, bringing together people from various backgrounds, in that case, from the Polish army, Ghana education, La Reunion politics and Greek consulting in Brussels. After that programme I can say being more focussed on my goals for the future.

Becoming a global village

Obviously, it took some time to adapt to the online format, meeting each other via little tabs, appearing on the screen. However, the world becoming a village, here this claim became true. Being located somewhere in a rather small city, unable to travel, this programme opened up the global world. After a while, there was some kind of routine studying at the European Academy of Diplomacy. However, there was and still is that great feeling of curiosity and privilege being able to talk with the brightest people from all ways of life. Might this be a futurologist Parag Khanna, explaining what the world could be after Covid-19, might this be Jeffrey Sachs, emphasizing the importance of sustainability for the future, or Catherine Ashton referring to the future of the European Union. Meeting diplomats, politicians, scientist from all over the world, gave a tremendous insight into the world we are living, mentally being part of it.

Becoming a diplomat

A world in disorder due to a little virus, this class taught very well about the importance of global diplomacy to cope with global challenges. During this year, I learned a lot about the three pillars of diplomacy to represent, to communicate and to negotiate. Intercultural skills are not just an asset, they become a must for ever more connected world to evolve.

During this classes I got a valuable understanding of how to write a speech, how to talk in front of an international audience, but also how to be aware of the diplomatic protocol. Before that, I was not aware of the stumbling stones for setting up an international banquet, but now, even at the reduced Easter brunch, I could make use of that valuable new knowledge gained. Foremost I enjoyed not just learning from the screen but learning from experts having been involved in diplomatic affairs for many years, willing to share their knowledge with us.

A global community

The pandemic has revealed how far we have progressed in the process of globalisation. However, what will come after Covid 19? The future is not ought to be foreseen but to be shaped by all of us. After one year at the European Academy of Diplomacy my conclusion is that diplomacy is the art of keeping a dialogue alive. Facing many future challenges, this dialogue about the future is highly needed. Challenges are high, but the former president of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who once brought Poland into NATO and EU stated during a session: “When I was president in the 1990ies, the world was dominated by optimism!”.

Now it is time to bring that optimism back, as this programme has revealed, we are not alone, but we are together in finding solutions for the future, or as Marie Curie once said: “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful!“

Thanks for this special year in these special times at the European Academy of Warsaw.

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