It has been a month as I am in the U.S. It was quite an intense period full of events, new acquaintances and lots of professional and social activities.
Being here on a fellowship program that has a complicated structure makes the experience very enriching. The Think Tank LINKS Fellowship is managed by CIPE and Atlas Corps, while I’m serving the fellowship at the Cato Institute.
After the first highlight of my stay in DC, namely attending the Inauguration of the 44th President of the U.S., I dived into the first two weeks of the fellowship. They were organized by the Atlas Corps in the form of introductory orientation (first week) and professional training (second week). This period was quite useful in order to get acquainted with other fellows, get settled in DC, get used to things and gain some new skills. During that time, I also had an introductory meeting at CIPE together with other Think Tank LINKS fellows. Later on, this meeting had a follow up in individual manner with the representatives of the Eastern Europe and Eurasia Department where we discussed economic and political issues in Belarus and within the Eurasian integration process.
As of February, I started my fellowship at one of the world leading think tanks – the Cato Institute. I was introduced to the scholar I am to work with – senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale, an internationally recognized expert on entitlement reform, and a member of the Social Security Advisory Board. I will be involved in his new research project concerning banking regulation before the recent international financial crisis and in its aftermath. Research is aimed at finding a clear explanation of what was the real problem with the banking sector, how the regulations and legislation influenced it and what were the effects of regulatory changes in the U.S. It is also envisaged that the project might take a comparative approach including the EU in the research. Apart from this new commitment, I am helping senior fellow Andrei Illarionov from the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity in his research work. Part of the fellowship at the Cato Institute involves attendance of seminars by well-known scholars, researchers and practitioners. Also being at Cato gives an opportunity to attend any of the events organized by them, which are indeed a lot. I am also in the process of exploring the practical side of think tank work organization. This is one of the types of knowledge that I am eager to bring back to Belarus and implement it.
Apart from these new roles, I try to explore other DC opportunities regarding my professional development. Thus, I attended an insightful lecture on economic growth by a distinguished economist Tyler Cowen, organized by the Philosophical Society of Washington. I also participated in the 6th Annual International Students for Liberty Conference. There, among others, I attended a lecture on capitalism by the Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and filming of the STOSSEL show aired at Fox Business Network.
Trying to accommodate these new roles and activities with my work and academic commitments, which I still have back in Europe, I do not forget about the social part of the fellowship. I therefore meet new people as well as old friends, make new friends, and explore cultural life in DC.
At this point, I can say that I have learned and explored a lot already, and there is so much more still awaiting. One of the things that once again has been confirmed is that there are smart, creative, talented and ambitious people in each and every corner of the world – be it the U.S. or any country other fellows come from. These people can indeed make a difference and help shape this world in a better way.