CEU’s CIVICA Ambassadors Connect Peers to the Alliance
CEU welcomes new CIVICA ambassador Alexandra Ion (MA in Economic Policy in Global Markets) and returning ambassador, Lena Ibishi (BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics), who will represent CEU and be a first point of contact to CIVICA for their peers during the 2023-24 academic year.
November also marks the transition concluding ambassador service of Alphonse Ndayisaba (MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology) who represented CEU for the 2022-23 academic year, along with Ibishi.
CIVICA Ambassadors range from undergraduate students to postdoctoral researchers, with each representing a university in the alliance. Their role is to promote interaction and exchange within the alliance's communities. The ambassadors network actively shapes CIVICA by initiating grassroots projects and participating in formal and informal alliance activities.
“Students can benefit from CIVICA’s emphasis on the integration of civic activities and experience the transformative role that engagement plays in affecting positive change,” said Ion. In her new role as an ambassador, she aspires to increase awareness of CIVICA projects and opportunities among CEU students, so that they can optimize their academic pursuits and enhance their prospects in the labor market.
Through CIVICA, Ion also looks forward to becoming involved in the further development of the European Student Assembly, a platform where students engage in a process of debates related to policy proposals and connect with experts in European policy making.
Ibishi is returning for a second year as an ambassador in order to bring several projects to completion. “The past year has been marked by meaningful milestones, with a primary focus on fostering sustainability through initiatives like the Green CIVICA Charter. The dedication and collaboration of two dozen students and researchers across our member universities have culminated in a set of guidelines that not only symbolizes our commitment to environmental stewardship but also serves as a blueprint for future cross-university endeavors,” she said.
Reflecting upon his tenure as a CIVICA Ambassador, Ndayisaba counts his participation in the CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute, sponsored by Google, as one of the most valuable activities he encountered. The programme, which is focused on professional experience in public affairs and public policy, welcomed eight first-generation students from the CIVICA alliance during the summer of 2023.
Following an initial week of onboarding collectively as a cohort, Ndayisaba embarked on a six-week paid internship at Google Paris, where he worked with a dedicated Google mentor, who provided support and insights for professional development.
“During the internship I learned about how the company approaches relationship development and the importance of soft skills for advancing projects and building trust,” he said. “I also learned about how the company considers criteria of social impact and visibility when considering NGOs to fund. I really saw how meeting with partners in person fosters opportunities to deepen relationships, which are crucial in the world of public affairs.”
Highlighting the value of the mentorship, in which he was embedded with the company’s public affairs team, Ndayisaba said: “This was one of the best parts of the experience. My mentor was coaching me from morning into the afternoon about what the team does, how they do things, and why, so I could understand the target behind everything.”
The culmination of the Google Policy Summer Institute was an event hosted online, during which the CIVICA scholars presented recommendations for an assigned policy issue to an audience comprised of Google representatives, members of the CIVICA community and policy agency partners. Ndayisaba worked with a CIVICA colleague based at the Hertie School in Berlin to create a presentation addressing labor shortages in the EU.
As he concludes his CIVICA Ambassador service, Ndayisaba encourages his CIVICA and CEU colleagues to continue thinking about access and how more people can be exposed to pivotal learning experiences at the university level. “For students at the university, it is important to remember that where you are – not everyone is able to reach here. We need to help each other. I hear from young people, many in refugee camps like I was before doing CEU’s preparatory programme, who want to go to university. And the queue is still long.”
Written by Julie Potter (CEU).