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Foreign affairs conference creates student opportunities for global engagement

Apr 1, 2024

Indiana University student Yaroslav Chalyi (Photo by Wendi Chitwood/Indiana University) Indiana University students are at the heart of the America’s Role in the World (ARW)® foreign policy conference, hosted annually by the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. This year’s conference, April 4-5, will feature diverse global affairs panel discussions and a conversation with 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights lawyer, Oleksandra Matviichuk and Politico Editor at Large, Matthew Kaminski.

Yaroslav Chalyi, president of the Ukrainian Studies Organization at IU, says that Matviichuk’s visit will be an opportunity for IU students to learn about the global impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“The support of the U.S. to my country is crucial and I am incredibly proud that one of the panelists is my fellow Ukrainian, Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” said Chalyi. “It will be an outstanding event that is incredibly important to me as a Ukrainian during these critical times — times of global changes and huge threats — as we see now in the war in Europe. It’s not just the war that Ukraine is fighting. It’s fighting for Europe and the entire West. The conflict is important to the entire world.”

Iryna Voloshyna Iryna VoloshynaIU folklore Ph.D. candidate Iryna Voloshyna is also looking forward to the conference and Matviichuk’s visit. The Indiana Slavic Choir, founded by Voloshyna, will perform at the conference.

“It is a great honor for the Indiana Slavic Choir to be invited to sing, especially to me personally and to other choir members who call Ukraine their homeland,” said Voloshyna. “The song we chose to sing for Ms. Oleksandra Matviichuk is the folk version of the national anthem of Ukraine. It was recorded in the ethnographic region of Kuban, that is a part of Russia today, but historically has belonged to Ukraine. This folk version of the national anthem demonstrates the grassroots aspirations of the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom and independence.”

Chalyi says that learning about global issues like Russia’s war on Ukraine may be a first step for IU students to becoming more globally engaged in their own areas of interest.

“Ukraine is not just about the war,” said Chalyi, who is majoring in public financial management. “From a business perspective, it’s important to know what’s happening in the world, and what type of market Ukraine will be after the victory. From every student’s perspective, there is something to learn.”

Students who have attended the ARW conference in previous years invite other students to take advantage of the opportunity to expand their global perspectives.

“My advice for students attending the ARW conference for the first time is to attend as many panels as you can, even if it’s not a topic that really interests you,” said IU Hamilton Lugar junior Shefali Prabhakar. “Sometimes those are the panels that end up being the most memorable and informative. And don’t be afraid to go up to speakers to introduce yourself and ask a question after the panels or in between sessions. They are here to speak to students!”

Prabhakar, who is also Rep. Lee Hamilton’s assistant at the Hamilton Lugar School, said the conference is her favorite event of the year and she encourages students to get involved.

Shefali Prabhakar Shefali Prabhakar introduced the panel discussion, "Hamilton Lugar at COP: Student Observers at the Climate Change Talks," at the ARW conference in 2023.“Don’t be afraid to approach someone if they don’t look busy. Just focus on introducing yourself and ask good questions,” said Prabhakar. “You don’t need to go into it thinking you have to get an internship out of the conversation, although it can happen!”

Hamilton Lugar School senior Kevin Mantell said the best advice he ever received about attending the ARW conference is to research the panelists.

“Decide which panelists seem the most interesting to you, then spend some time researching their work, accomplishments, and current projects,” said Mantell. “Panelists truly enjoy engaging with students, especially on topics they know the most about.”

In preparation for conference networking, students have been taking part in workshops and trivia nights to learn about the panelists who are diplomats, journalists, foreign policy experts, and scholars. The events were planned by the ARW student events steering committee, including Kendrick Mernitz, Hamilton Lugar School senior.

“Participating in ARW and its pre-conference events creates an exciting opportunity for students to engage with both peers and a wide range of professionals, delving into critical issues that impact our world today,” said Mernitz. “In organizing these pre-conference activities, we aimed to foster a sense of community and encourage professional growth in a dynamic and interactive setting.”

Kendrick Mernitz Kendrick Mernitz introduced the panel discussion, "Indiana and the World: Environmentalism begins at home," at the ARW conference in 2023.Hamilton Lugar senior Amangul Hydyrova is also on the ARW student events steering committee. She says she hopes students enjoy their time at the conference.

“To feel less nervous, students could benefit from preparing a short introduction, briefly familiarizing themselves with the panelists and the topics of the panels and joining the Backstage Pass GroupMe to coordinate with other students who plan on attending the conference,” she said.

Other students who have attended ARW in the past say they enjoy both the social and professional networking opportunities.

“ARW has been one of the most defining experiences of my time at IU,” said Hamilton Lugar School senior Eden Rose Zaborowski. “It helped prepare me to effectively network in formal situations and to feel comfortable talking with government officials and other foreign policy professionals. I and the other steering committee members have worked to create a positive and supportive environment for ARW 2024, and we hope that all IU students feel prepared for the conference.”

Zaborowski recommends going to ARW with a friend or classmate and attending the “Future of the Global Workforce Breakfast” events at 8:30 a.m. on April 4 and 5 at the Hamilton Lugar School.

The America’s Role in the World conference will be held at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, 355 N. Eagleson Ave., in Shreve Auditorium and will also be livestreamed. Advance registration is suggested.


Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies

Sarah DeWeese

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