This summer, Bryan College students Tommy Newman and Joshua Cresswell had the opportunity to fly to the Czech Republic with Marketa Hanlova of Kremlin Watch. Through arrangements made by Dennis Miller, Executive Director of External Relations and the Director of International Development for Bryan College, Tommy and Joshua spent two weeks interning first in Prague and then in Olomouc.
The first week was spent with the European Values Center for Security Policy/Kremlin Watch in Prague. This NGO is one of the most important non-governmental agencies monitoring Russian activities in the world. The center staff is approximately 30 Czechs and recently added a number of Ukrainians to work with them. Tommy and Joshua were required to sign a confidentiality agreement because of the sensitivity of the work there, but they are able to share a general overview of the trip.
The second week of the trip was spent in Olomouc. They stayed in a dorm room at Palacky University Olomouc (est. 1573) and spent the week touring local businesses, sitting in on meetings, and networking with professionals.
Tommy is a Sophomore Politics and Government major at Bryan. He has not decided what he wants to do with his career path yet, but he loved these internship experiences and hopes for similar opportunities in the future!
During his first week, Tommy’s job was to help monitor Russian Influence in Eastern Europe, but most importantly in Prague. He also learned about monitoring corruption and dealing with affiliation with the Russian Mafia. He stated that the agency pushes for people to know the truth because there is a lot of misinformation floating around Europe about everything going on in our world.
Tommy and Joshua were able to observe a few briefings, learning the nitty gritty of these confidential jobs. One of the bigger jobs during the week was editing the newsletter since it is produced in English. None of the people they were working with were fluent in English, so Tommy and Joshua were able to help make grammar corrections for a professional newsletter to go out to the public.
Tommy and Joshua stayed at a Best Western Hotel in downtown Prague, one tram away from where they were working their first week. Tommy stated that he never felt unsafe while visiting the Czech Republic, even despite the feeling that Politicians are out to get the people who work in the career field he was there to shadow!
When asked how he believed Bryan College prepared him for his experience during these two internships, Tommy said Bryan has a great international presence that prepared him to talk to others outside of his comfort zone. He was able to use the international religious differences to spread the gospel of Christ without being pushy, and he said that Bryan prepared him for those kinds of sensitive conversations with others.
Joshua is a rising Junior Politics and Government major at Bryan. He is considering Law School after graduation. He thoroughly enjoyed the internships and said if Bryan offered another opportunity, he would do it again and would encourage others to as well!
Joshua got off to a bit of a rough start when he realized he misplaced his passport 6 days prior to the trip. He had to go to Atlanta for an emergency passport appointment and rearrange his flights to Prague. After he arrived, he quickly got comfortable and loved the experience. He said that during the first week, they were closer in proximity to Ukraine than Bryan College is to Memphis, and he found it interesting dealing with the Russian influences.
Religious differences and Atheism were very apparent in the Czech Republic. Joshua stated that people over there care more about one another and are more communal, whereas, in America, people care more about themselves as individuals. Joshua said the agency was constantly working together on ways to help Ukraine rebuild from recent disasters and how to help accommodate them. He appreciated those efforts!
Joshua’s week in Olomouc seemed to be his favorite! He enjoyed touring the historical city with students their age from the local University and seeing the huge Cathedral churches and learning about their structures. He also really enjoyed an aerospace tour. Joshua’s favorite memory was just spending time and connecting with the students from other cultures that were near his age and being able to compare what it was like to be a college student there.
Below are a few pictures Joshua and Tommy shared with us from their trip to the Czech Republic. Thank you both for sharing your interesting experiences! We are thankful they enjoyed a safe and knowledgeable trip representing our College so well!
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