BY RUI ZHONG
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Casual discussions on the Scottish referendum and European policy reform are commonplace in Washington, D.C., but a chance to engage current issues with active policymakers adds a new dimension to discussions of current events and politics, as one group of SAIS students recently found.
On the afternoon of Sept. 18th, members of the SAIS Italian Society were able to meet with a delegation of Italian parliamentarians hailing from various political parties who were participating in a study tour of D.C. The MPs’ itinerary also included meetings with their American counterparts and the United Nations. Also in attendance at the event and discussion were representatives and staff of the Italian Embassy, NIH researchers, and professionals in the D.C. Italian community. “The only students who attended the event were those representing SAIS through the Italian Society,” said society leader Ilaria Mazzocco.
The meeting between students and parliament members was informal in nature, which allowed student members to both mingle with MPs and to engage policymakers on a one-on-one basis to discuss policy issues and current events. Italian Society members, alongside Italian community members, were able to informally discuss topics such as urban reform and political news pertinent to Rome.
This event is the latest in a series of meetings with Italian officials in which SAIS students have been invited to take part, including meetings with the President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini and other officials. Mazzocco believes that this event presents additional opportunities for the Italian Society to branch out and form links with the larger network of Italians in the Washington, D.C., area. “Over the past year, [we’ve] worked to establish a relationship with the embassy,” says Mazzocco. Future endeavors aim to provide Italian Society members with established channels for networking, education, and professional enrichment.
Policymakers specializing in Italian policy issues face many nuanced contemporary political, social, and economic challenges that impact tomorrow’s outcomes. Dialogues like the one conducted between Italian parliamentarians and SAISers might become more commonplace, not just as an opportunity for students to receive perspectives on important events, but also as a way for leaders of today to invest in leaders of tomorrow.