Maximilien Lambertson – USA (2014, Berlin)
My time at ESI in Berlin has provided the perfect environment for me to apply my previous experiences and develop professional skills, particularly in policy research and writing. Before ESI, I studied International Politics as an undergraduate at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. As a Swiss-American, I speak English, French and German and began learning Russian at university.
In my summers, I taught English in villages in Eastern Europe and after university, I worked for a year in Bulgaria as a Fulbright fellow. I then returned to Washington, DC and joined the Central and Eastern European team at the National Democratic Institute, supporting political development programs in Albania and Bosnia. With a strong desire to be in the field, I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia for a fellowship with the Caucasus Research Resource Centers and finally came to ESI in March 2014.
A great variety of experiences and an incredibly dynamic work environment defined my time at ESI. Starting on my first day, I worked directly with Gerald on ESI's proposal for clear economic criteria in the EU accession process. I conducted political and economic research, and was introduced to the intricacies of DG enlargement and Eurostat. It was thrilling to immediately be thrust into a project which has the potential to reinvigorate EU expansion in the Balkans.
Later I helped organise ESI's "Towards a Europe without Political Prisoners" conference, getting the opportunity to meet people such as Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova and Piotr Switalski of the Council of Europe. It was inspirational to see ESI bring these human rights defenders together to launch this campaign to eliminate political prisoners in Europe. Working with Christian, Yana, and Matt to put together one of ESI's largest events in relatively short notice was a great challenge to be exposed to and successfully meet.
My personal highlight of my time at ESI was traveling to Skopje with Gerald and Eggert, to conduct research on the media and situation in Macedonia. We met with a host of people in the NGO, international, government and journalist communities, which gave my research on Macedonia a tangible feel, but also humbled me, making me realize how much more real and complicated situations are when seen on the ground.
Max in Skopje
I credit ESI with providing me with a direct link to the European policymaking world. It was extremely rewarding to see firsthand how successfully ESI informs policymakers and the public with its clear and straightforward research, giving structure and value to the many newsletters, reports, and memos I helped write, research, and edit. My work at ESI has exposed me to the world of European policy and development networks I was unaware of and especially shown me the value of bringing people together to work towards common goals.
It is rare as a young person at the beginning of their career to find an environment that actively encourages one to be innovative and contribute ideas to ongoing projects.
This fall I will start a Master's at the University College London focusing on European integration, foreign policy and security in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
Some projects Maximilien was involved in:
Max at Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, near Berlin