After receiving the Obama Club’s First Obama Scholarship in March 2014, I was given
the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Chicago for two months, and complete
an internship at the think tank The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. During my
two months in Chicago, I had the chance to assist in the preparation and execution
of the inaugural Chicago Forum on Global Cities: a forum dedicated to the role of
cities in current affairs, with focus on technology, sustainability, security, and
arts and culture.
In preparing for the forum, I was responsible for the registration of participants,
and to some extent, the speakers. It was an incredible experience to be behind the
scenes and see how a massive conference of several thousand participants is organized.
The forum took place during three days in the end of May 2015, and included more
than a dozen moderators from the Financial Times, as well as world famous speakers
such as Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, Ajay Banga, CEO of Mastercard,
and Khoo Boon Hui, former President of Interpol.
The forum was located in the main attractions all over Chicago. Most seminars took
place at The Art Institute – voted the best art museum in the world – while others
took place in Millennium Park, on the gorgeous post-modern stage designed by Frank
Gehry, the Chicago Cultural Center, the University of Chicago, and similarly important
venues. Partaking in the forum not only allowed me to listen to and engage with some
of the most inspiring people of today, but also experience the extraordinary city
of Chicago, the way it is meant to be seen.
Many see Chicago as the cultural capital of the United States. In my opinion, it
is more fitting to describe it as the cultural, and multi-cultural capital of the
United States. During the forum, in this remarkable place, people from all over the
world came together, to discuss, to cooperate, to interact. But more importantly,
the city is home to a strikingly ethnically diverse population, with variations of
incredible cuisines that come with it.
Thanks to the Obama Club of the Netherlands, in cooperation with The Hague Municipality,
I had the chance to be a part of this melting pot of culture, and it is an experience
I will never forget.