Prague 2011: Business and Pleasure

Pace students manage to celebrate Thanksgiving abroad.

On November 19, eleven Pace students and two teachers left Atlanta for a weeklong trip to Prague, Czech Republic. Partially a Model UN conference, partly a Global Education trip, these students got the best of both in one of Europe’s most magnificent cities.

The first five days were the Global Ed portion of the trip, and the students spent time touring Pragueís historic landmarks, markets, and districts, most notably the annual lighting of the city Christmas tree in Old Town Square, as well as shopping in the Christmas market. Their tour guide noted in particular their interest in the history of the city, as well as the art and architecture which abounded: “I think that they [Pace students] are very lucky to have an opportunity to travel around the world, meet foreign people, learn about different cultures, history and opinions. You have prepared for them a rich program in Prague indeed. . . .  I haven’t met so educated and thoughtful~ young people from the USA before.”

In addition to the usual tourist destinations, the students visited some unique places, thanks to contacts and friends of the school. One was the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. While the name sounds like a dull thinktank, what happens within its walls is far from ordinary.  After attending a seminar on the instituteís mission, students were able to see actual files on political dissidents and organizations created by the Soviet secret police during the height of the Cold War.  These unredacted files provided an incredible insight into the Communist machine that few others are able to view.

The other unique location the students visited was the headquarters of Global Payments Europe, a major corporation that processes credit card payments and creates them initially. The students attending a meeting with high-ranking executives, toured their ATM innovation facility, and, after several layers of security, were allowed to see credit cards being made from blank squares of plastic. The students were sad that their Thanksgiving Day was spent away from home, but the generous staff at the company commissary took it upon themselves to research and cook a genuine Turkey Day feast.

After several days of fun, the time for work had to begin. The students switched hotels to move from the tourist oriented Old Town to the more Western and professional Diplomat Hotel closer to the Prague Airport. The conference began with students meeting in national cabinets and assemblies, where they would work for the next four days. The next day, the crisis mode began, which meant that disasters and other significant events from around the world were devised and fed to delegates, who had to come up with comprehensive responses accordingly. Press releases flowed from Twitter to all committees, and delegates rushed back and forth between various assemblies presenting and voting on solutions, trying to keep ahead of the flood of bad news.  At the end of the day, Pace returned home, a highly awarded (and exhausted) group.

Simon Wu, Technology Editor ’12

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