Report on Summer Program at Pázmány Péter Catholic University: Experience in Budapest, Hungary
Mr. Lemuel Abishua
This year, Pázmány Péter Catholic University hosted a Summer School program on Sustainable Development Law and Mr. Lemuel had the distinct pleasure of representing RLS during this program. From 19th June to 4th July, I had the opportunity to learn alongside law students from various parts of the world in Budapest, Hungary. The nearly month-long exposure to enlightenment, fun and new experiences was incredible and astonishing. The following report details some of the key highlights from the program.
Pazmany Peter Catholic University
Pazmany Peter Catholic University (PPCU) is a private university founded by the Catholic Church in Hungary and recognized by the State. Established in 1635, the nearly 400-year-old school is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in not only Hungary, but also Europe and the rest of the world. The Summer Program was hosted by the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of PPCU which won the award for best Hungarian law school 2016/17.
Within PPCU’s Law School, the program was coordinated by the International Office which is headed by Vice Dean Tihamer Toth. He was assisted by Pollack Susanna and Grodek Agnes. The former Dean, Gyula Bandi, also doubles as the Director of the Jean Monnet Center for Excellence (the organizers of the program). Generally, the International office usually aids with coordinating exchange programs and international students through the ‘Erasmus’ program. Erasmus is a student exchange program used by European Universities as they take advantage of the EU’s flexible migration policies for European University students. They also involved student leaders from the Erasmus Club in the university to ensure our stay was enjoyable and memorable through various activities such as hiking, boat riding and tours.
The summer program this year was the first one hosted by PPCU. They partnered with the Jean Monnet Center for Excellence to host the program this year and settled on the topic of Sustainable Development. The program was conducted mainly at PPCU’s premises. Although, we had some classes hosted in various parts of Hungary including a class at the Regional Environmental Center and another class at Pannonhalma Abbey.
After the program, PPCU has been compiling feedback from participants which they hope to use to improve next year’s program.
The Summer School hosted students from all across the world representing Asia, North and South America, Europe and of course Africa! Africa was represented by 3 students including myself. PPCU accepted 2 students from RLS, Grace Kala and Lemuel Abishua. Although, Grace was unable to attend due to visa difficulties.
In addition, we were taught by diverse pool of Professors from Hungary, Sweden, Germany, USA and Ecuador among other countries. They are famed academics and practitioners including Judges, Deans and Professors of prestigious Law Schools and In-House lawyers among others
The Summer School program was centered on Sustainable Development Law, Environmental Governance as well as multifaceted issues surrounding these topics.
Notably, some law students were awarded extra Academic Credits from their home law schools for participating in the program.
I and others that attended the full program were awarded diplomas at the end of the course, while those that missed some sessions were awarded certificates.
In addition to these classes, the hosts (Pázmány) made a deliberate effort to create a memorable experience through various extra-curricular activities. We went on various tours to different destinations including the famed Hungarian Parliament building, the Danube River, Matthias Church and other Churches, and the Citadel among others. In addition, we also visited different towns including Ballaton, St. Andrew and Eger. During our time at Pannonhalma and Eger, participants and Professors also partook in some wine-tasting which is a part of Hungarian culture.
Due to the involvement of Hungarian students from PPCU, participants were also able to partake in fun activities like strategy games and hiking among others during our free time. Some participants also chose to visit Hungary’s neighboring countries such as Croatia, Austria and Slovakia during weekends.
Reflections & Opportunities
The conversation that took place during our program was extremely enlightening for me, especially due to my passion for leadership. It was also timely considering the upcoming elections in Kenya. Hearing some of the challenges being faced by developed nations with respect to sustainability and environmental governance while bearing in mind the vast amount of untapped potential in Kenya and the rest of Africa highlighted the unique opportunity we now face. Many industrialized and developed nations are nearly depleting their stock of natural resources while vast reserves still remain in the African continent. Super powers like China, USA, France and the rest of the world know it. But, Africa is yet to fully appreciate the potential value posed. To ensure that this lack of appreciation does not result in wasted potential, educating Kenyans and the rest of Africa on sustainable development and environmental governance is essential to maximizing our potential and prosperity in the near future as well as that of future generations.
My participation in the program also opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities when it came to Summer Programs. I learned that there are countless similar opportunities for RLS law students to participate in and many of these are looking to increase diversity by hosting students from developing nations and Africa in general. If possible, a list of similar opportunities could be compiled and shared with RLS at the beginning of each year for students to apply for these international opportunities.
The narrative during our program was largely European Union and USA oriented and understandably so because many of our Professors came from these regions. I see an opportunity here to share an African perspective to the conversations taking place during these programs by having lecturers from RLS and other faculties participate through teaching. I believe that many academics and institutions are interested to learn more about Africa and would be willing to fund such an endeavor if we suggested it.
I’m very grateful to those that played a role in enabling my participation in this program. I was honored to represent RLS and RU in the program and look forward to raising the Riara flag even higher through further legal and academic pursuits.