La Pietra Dialogues always works hard to provide students with relevant and exciting educational programs. But last week, the good people of LPD outdid themselves with a sponsored field trip to Brussels and Luxembourg. A month ago, I joined the EU in Focus Working Group, one of the many programs LPD has to offer, and began to learn about the intricacies of the supranational political system uniting Europe. But last week, I was able to truly experience the work of the EU as my peers and I traveled from Florence to Brussels to Luxembourg, touring and participating in several EU institutions.
Bright and (exceptionally) early, the working group met in the Florence airport, eager to finally embark on the anticipated field trip. Once we arrived in Brussels and quickly made friends with our peers from NYU Berlin, we promptly began to summarize what we had learned in our respective working groups up until that point. My peers and I were able to name the five main institutions of the European Union (the European Commission, the Council of the EU, the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Court of Justice) and their main functions. Not only did this program teach us the complicated framework of this system before the trip, but we were able to intelligently discuss the research we acquired as we focused on the EU’s ever-evolving policies on immigration and data protection as soon as we touched down in Brussels. I was impressed with how much we were all able to learn in such a short time through this La Pietra Dialogues program and I felt prepared to put this knowledge to practice.
The next three days in the bustling city of Brussels and country of Luxembourg went by all too quickly. As we went from esteemed institutions, The United States Mission to the European Union and the grand buildings of the European Commission and the EU Council, to some of the most interesting museums and visiting centers in Europe, the Parlamentarium and the Bozar Art Museum, I learned and learned. Not only did those interested in pursuing a career in politics, gain a valuable international perspective with which to supplement their studies. But with every place we visited, I learned something new about the greater political and cultural context of my temporary home in Europe. Not only did participating in a Parliamentary role play expand my understanding of the European Union law-making processes, but visiting two of the most engaging modern art museums in Luxembourg gave me a greater grasp of the contemporary culture throughout Europe.
So this is my thank you note to all of the folks at La Pietra Dialogues. Thank you for taking us to every major institution of the European Union, ensuring our comprehensive understanding of the overarching political context of our current home in Florence. Thank you for making time to visit the museums of Brussels and Luxembourg, ensuring our knowledge and appreciation of European modern art. And (a big) thank you for taking us all to such fantastic restaurants. Thank you, LPD, for once again putting students first and giving the EU working group a trip of a lifetime.