Attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya was a surreal experience and a privilege. I learned more about policy making in a span of a day and half than I would have learned in a whole year.
In preparation of the Summit, I chose the on-going refugee crisis as my area of research. This enabled me to focus my attendance and coverage of different sessions at the Summit. At the end of day one, I wrote a blog post on the developments made on this issue and following the conclusion of the Summit, I submitted a policy analysis discussing the overall progress and failure of the policy makers to tackle address the crisis.
Our experience at the Summit exceeded all of our expectations. Being based at the International Media Centre with another 1000+ local and international journalists, enabled us to be part of the action and follow developments in real time. If the buzz of the media centre wasn’t intoxicating enough, we had the chance to see and hear world leaders speak at different briefings and events.
As policy analysts, we had the kind of access to international decision makers, which is only available to a selected group of seasoned hacks and politicos. On day one, I attended the joint session meeting by Labour 20 and Business 20 partner groups. At this event, I had the chance to listen to the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Managing Director of IMF Christine Lagarde, Secretary General of OECD Angel Guria, Director-General of WTO Roberto Azevêdo, Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, and the CEOs of Nestle, Bharti Enterprises and Coca Cola amongst other dignitaries.
In addition to this, I got the chance to network with Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and convenor of Labour 20 group. We have stayed in touch since the Summit and she emailed me this week to say she liked my policy analysis and has agreed to do a follow-up interview.
On day two, I attended a press briefing by EU Sherpa Richard Szostak, where I asked him a question related to the refugee crisis. This particular experience was quite interesting because I was the first one to ask a question in a room full of international press. This then gave me the confidence to approach Deputy Chief Spokeswoman of the EU Commission, Mina Andreeva, for an interview after the briefing. During the Summit, I also had a chance to interview Pascale Moreau, the UNHCR representative to Turkey, on her expectations from this Summit regarding the refugee crisis.
Along with this, I had a chance to network with the Media Coordinator for the German government, Christine Zastrow; the press officer for European Council, Juri Laas; Deputy Chair of International Refugee Rights Association, Muaz Yanilmaz; and Turkish and Indian journalists.
The Summit was full of exciting moments. While getting a picture with IMF head Christine Lagarde and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and seeing German Chancellor Angela Merkel were quite thrilling moments, the chance to interview policy makers and representatives from different international organisations were great learning opportunities. The Summit provided an unparalleled breadth of experience, which enabled me to network, report, interview, live-tweet, and write blogs and policy analysis in just a day and a half.
The GLI scheme being run by GLOSS is an excellent initiative.
The scheme enables students to experience decision-making at the highest levels of governance, something, which cannot be taught in a classroom. The experience one gains by covering an international summit is invaluable. The scheme not only aids learning, it helps students get a taste of practical working conditions and gives them an idea about the career they would like to pursue. Moreover, it is not just field experience; the programme also requires students to write blogs and policy analysis. This not only equips the students with the skills to analyse policy but also makes a worthy addition to their CVs.
By offering students the best fieldwork opportunities available, the GLI scheme is setting the University of Sheffield apart from other institutions of higher learning.
Amna Kaleem is an MA in Global security student in the department of Politics at the University of Sheffield.