What Alpbach Scholarships offer: Interview with Isidora

As a young person starting out on your professional journey, international decision-makers may seem far away. Connecting with them is easier than you might think, however. The European Forum Alpbach (EFA) Scholarship Programme makes it possible for you to learn from young minds and established leaders across the world: click here to find out more. Apply here before the 31st of March, 2020, and mention that you found this opportunity through the European Youth Parliament! To get inspired for your application, read what Isidora from EYP Serbia has to say about her Alpbach experience below.

“If you ask me, EYP teaches you to be open-minded, push yourself out of comfort zone and never stop learning and striving for more — I think EFA in many ways has a similar goal, but you find yourself in a quite different environment.”

Isidora

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Do you remember how you got involved in EYP?

I am Isidora, 24 years old, and living in Belgrade, Serbia. I got a degree in International Relations (like so many other EYPers) at University of Belgrade and am currently working in National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) as a Policy Officer/Project Assistant. I have been engaged in EYP since 2013 and I got involved through a high school friend. Looking back at it, EYP really defined me in many ways — personally and professionally.

During my EYP journey I have experienced it from many different perspectives — apart from taking part in sessions, I presided the Board of EYP Serbia for a year after previously being International Coordinator at the Board of EYP Serbia, I took part in Training and Member Development Council and last but definitely not least, I did my European Voluntary Service at the International Office in Berlin. Even after many years I have not taken the step out just yet – currently, I am the President of the Advisory Board of EYP Serbia.

What is the European Forum Alpbach and how did you find out about it?

As if I wasn’t involved enough in EYP already, I also took part in the EYP mentorship programme — I was a mentee in the first generation (2018). My mentor Katharina, an EYP Alumna, was working for the European Forum Alpbach Foundation at the time and encouraged me to apply for the forum. At that point I had a very vague idea about what it was — I found out EFA is an interdisciplinary platform for science, politics, business and culture but also so much more than I expected. It connects international decision-makers from all sectors of society with an interested audience and committed young people — sounds like a right place for EYPers, don’t you think?

Could you name three things that you liked most about being a Scholarship holder of EFA?

Attending European Forum Alpbach 2019 as a first time scholarship holder
meant spending more than two weeks attending workshops, lectures, and fireside talks, a format truly unique for EFA where a renowned academic, experienced professional, or a leader in a certain field comes together with a small group of scholarship holders for a chat in an informal setting. Also, we saw art performances and did hikes in the Alps. Getting to hear from some of leaders who help shape the world we live in — such as Ban Ki Moon, Jeffrey Sachs and Alexander Van der Bellen – was an incredible learning experience. Nevertheless, what inspired me the most was meeting and learning from so many young bright minds from all over the world and I can only say I am very grateful that I was offered a scholarship.  

Why would you encourage an EYPer to participate in it?

EFA is an opportunity to take a step away from your background (be it academic or professional) and reach for new areas to explore and learn about. To illustrate — being focused on social sciences most of my adult life it was an entirely new experience to learn about AI or genetic engineering from world-renowned experts. And the content is so diverse that whatever it is that you do, you’ll find something new to try out – such as drama classes or leadership course taught by military personnel.

If you ask me, EYP teaches you to be open-minded, push yourself out of comfort zone and never stop learning and striving for more — I think EFA in many ways has a similar goal, but you find yourself in a quite different environment. You are much more exposed being surrounded by more than 500 young people from around the world with very different backgrounds, each of them unique and extraordinary in their own way. 

Any tricks how to succeed in application?

Being one of around 600 scholarship holders (selected out of around 4000 applications from the entire world), I can certainly say EYP was an important part of my CV, so make sure you list your EYP experiences! Also, make sure to read carefully info about the call and the event itself. Good luck!