On 22 April, the European Academy of Diplomacy, in cooperation with PZU SA and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, starts the spring edition of the European Diplomacy Workshop (EDW). 25 participants from 14 countries will take a 5-day intensive course, consisting of seminars and workshops, on foreign policy of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership initiative. Through the courtesy of the European Academy of Diplomacy, I have a chance to participate in the Workshop as a representative of one of the media patrons of the EDW. To better present to our readers the concept of the Workshop, I asked Jason Worlledge, EAD Deputy Director coordinating the EDW, a few questions about the programme.
Paweł Charkiewicz: What is the concept behind EDW and what are the aims of the programme?
Jason Worlledge: The EDW has always been a program about EU foreign policy and institutional decision making and of Polish foreign policy, especially the Eastern Partnership, which has also been our target audience as we felt that there was most potential to influence change in these countries. This is a program made for young professionals, social and political leaders who want to understand the EU better – whether they come from member countries or not. In the case of the former, these leaders want to deepen their knowledge in order to use it in strengthening the role of the EU as a global actor in the future. In the case of the latter, the EDW participants want to learn more about how to bring their countries closer to the EU and shape efficiently bilateral relations in the future.
How many participants do you have and from which countries do they come from?
We have had 90 participants of the EDW, including this year’s, with participants coming from more than 30 different countries: Germany, France, UK, Italy, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Russia, Kongo, USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, Spain, China, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Netherlands, the United States, Luxembourg
How do you promote the EDW program abroad?
We work closely with other NGOs and international institutions which help us promote the EDW and all of our international programs. We also rely heavily on our alumni database and, as we have seen in the past 2 years, our alumni are eager to work with us and help us promote and recommend participants. This year, 50 percent of the scholarship winners and participants were initially contacted through the recommendation of our alumni. We also work with our two partners – PZU & KAS – very closely in promotion of the program. Through our partnerships with these institutions and the relationships we have built with them over the years, we are at 40 percent scholarships for our international programs. Our goal is 80-100 percent scholarships and each year we move closer to the goal.
Do you have statistics how the Workshop has influenced careers of the participants thus far?
We are currently monitoring this now as it takes some time to really see the benefits of educational investments, but as we have seen through our surveys and analysis, there are few programs organized that specializes in the Eastern Partnership and programs that are designed for participants from Eastern Partnership countries to give valuable insight to instruments and decision making processes of the European Union. Many of our participants are already lecturers at universities or completing their PhDs and will use the knowledge gained to enlighten their students.
Could you tell us more about the experts invited to lead the Workshop?
We engage lecturers and experts who share a similar passion as we do. Almost all of our lecturers want to come back and work with our participants so it is really one-part great participants who are bright and ambitious and intellectually challenging (and seeking to be intellectually challenged), and one-part lecturers who believe in the importance opening the doors. 60 percent of our faculty is international: they come for the EDW from the USA, France, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine etc. Javier Solana, Bernard Kouchner and Danuta Hubner have all met with the students. Students also have a study visit to the Polish MFA and Embassies such as Danish, German and British to show EU diplomacy in action. They also meet with representatives of the European Union (Ewa Synowiec, Thierry Bechet).
How much work and time does the whole process of organizing the EDW take?
Hours. Days. Weeks. It is a long process and we focus on building relationships with the participants on a daily basis through email and phone interviews. We want to attract the absolute best people we can, and this takes a lot of time. And we want to give the participants, who have put their life and careers on hold for a week, as good a program as possible. It is challenging, but we see great rewards in this on a personal level as we are all very committed to the work we do at the EAD, as well as professionally. It is hard to put a number on how much time we spend at our desks working on this, but I can say that since the last EDW ended in November, the first thing on my mind most days is how I can make this one better. Thankfully my job is made easier by working with great people, working with great lecturers who are equally as passionate, and working with great participants. Starting the week of the conference, I will be with the participants from the time they leave the hotel to the time they go to sleep; the typical week consists of about 100 hours of work or more, but it’s great, it is what I love doing, especially when I read the feedback and hear how great the conference was and how beneficial the conference was for the participant.
More infromation on the European Academy of Diplomacy website.
Eastbook.eu is the media patron of the European Diplomacy Workshop.