BY ANA VASUDEVAN
Alumni of SAIS Europe (Bologna Center) gathered in Manhattan over the weekend to award scholarships, network and celebrate Halloween at the 9th annual “Amici di Bologna Symposium and Celebration” on Saturday, Oct. 29th.
Following the success of last year’s Amici di Bologna event, SAIS alumni accrued enough money to host an “Alumni Meet Students” panel in April 2016 and also award eight fellowships for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The first-year recipients, who are currently in Bologna, are Castro Amponsah-Yeboah (Ghana), Mona Damian (Germany/Australia), Khrystian Pereira (Brazil), and Melanie Snail (USA).
Additionally, the second-year recipients, who are finishing up their programs in Washington, D.C., are Fatima Al Zahra Hewaidi (Libya/Canada), Ulla-Stina Henttonen (Finland), Fatima Nanavati (Canada), and Sarah Piccini (Italy/USA).
Reflecting on what receiving the fellowship means to her, Fatima Al Zahra Hewaidi said, “Last year at SAIS Europe has been a defining one for me. It was a reference point for a lot of great thinking, idea sharing and inspiring conversations with people who have become like my second family. So when I found out that I was one of the recipients of the Amici di Bologna fellowship, it really did feel like I was being supported to continue my studies by members of my family.”
The first half of the weekend’s activities consisted of a panel discussion moderated by Paul Cruickshank (B’03,’04), CNN’s Terrorism Analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the CTC Sentinel. The panelists included Sandra Babcock (B’85, JHU’86), Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School; Alan Kuperman (B’96), Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs; and Michael Plummer (B’82), Director of SAIS Europe and Eni Professor of International Economics.
Each panelist was asked to answer the question: “What scares you the most?,” sticking with the event’s “Boo-logna” Halloween theme. The panelists talked about how the outcome of next week’s U.S. Presidential election will impact issues of human rights, nuclear weapons and the future of economic programs.
Afterwards, Clyde Frazier’s Restaurant opened up for a networking reception and gourmet buffet dinner as well as an open bar serving the drink of the night, “the Magic Sam.” Two of the panelists also happened to be members of SAIS’s BC Fuzz, who played their tunes for SAISers of all ages on the dancefloor. The afterparty continued at District Social late into the night.
The strong alumni presence at this year’s celebration not only left the vecchi and nuovi Bolognesi nostalgic for a caffè at Giulio’s Bar or the taste of real Italian pizza at Beppe’s, but also created excitement for a future with a great alumni network of fellow SAISers who lift each other up. As Fatima Nanavati stated, “Receiving the award has given me further incentive to excel in my education and career, especially so that I can help facilitate that success for students in the future.”