My first Impressions and Reflections as a MIP Fellow at Cornell University
Pursuing my graduate studies in a high-quality and multicultural U.S university has always been my dream. Thanks to the MIP program, this dream became reality and this semester I began my 2-year MS program in Applied Economics & Management (AEM) at Cornell University, NY.
We live in exceptional times, amid a global pandemic; yet, I dare to say that my Cornell experience so far, has been highly rewarding. Let me briefly explain to you what I mean.
To begin with, during these two months, I have witnessed how virtual teaching methods have been developing, to the point that materials are taught and discussed in a highly professional manner. The initial challenges of getting used to Zoom, have been overcome by the exacerbated innovation and creativity of my Cornell professors in teaching the courses. Combining lecture slides, with drawings on notepads, breakout room discussions, in-class polls and the proper use of the chatbox to ask questions during seminars have opened a new educational dimension to me. As a training development economist, this is inspiring and leads me to believe that there are still so many simple solutions that we can implement in our education system in Albania, that can enhance the quality of our education, in a virtual context.
Moreover, during my first two months at the AEM Cornell program, I have attended several seminars and economic conferences and listened to paper presentations of research addressing different development topics, such as equality in labor markets, food safety, collaborative approaches in addressing climate change, climate risk in agriculture and respective policy-making implications. The extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic has affected research methods and results are impressive. More than a health crisis, what the world has been through these past months, has brought the spotlight on the already existing economic, social, and environmental issues in our societies. This has made me understand in practice, through numerous case studies, the increasing relevance of development economics questions in the times we live in.
Thankfully, the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell offers a multidisciplinary approach to better understand the challenges of development through different lenses. I can consult with professors from different fields and get their relevant expert opinions and advice regarding my research. Indeed, I feel privileged to be able to use these valuable human resources, while gaining a holistic view of international development disciplines.
Another aspect that has been enriching my experience is the multicultural environment that Cornell offers. I have met and created friendships with students from the US, China, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines, Colombia, former Peace Corps Volunteers, and have had the chance to exchange our points of view in an academic, professional, and social aspect. Celebrating Halloween, birthdays, and being present in the US in a historical Presidential election year, have brought back beautiful memories of being a Youth Exchange and Study student in CA, US, a decade ago. I know that I am building life-lasting friendships, and this makes me very happy because I truly consider such a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities to be priceless to my overall graduate experience.
This is why, despite all the logistical and technical challenges that the pandemic has brought to this academic year, I have been able to view the whole experience as an opportunity instead. Hence, my key take-away so far, is that there is so much more that we can do as human beings not only to socially adapt but also to be able to improve and innovate. This being said, I am looking forward to the rest of the semester and the remaining part of my program at Cornell.
Ina Gjika, MIP Fellow 2020-2022, currently pursuing an MS program in Applied Economics & Management (AEM) at Cornell University, NY.