By Lucila Rosso, first PNK Fellow
I sit in front of the computer with the task of responding to the question that frames this text. It seems simple, but to condense into words and synthesize the experience is far from easy.
To begin with what seems obvious always helps. To be the first “PNK Fellow” began as a challenge that turned into surprise and immediately afterwards, into great joy. At the same time, it became a recognition and an impetus as well as a source of pride and a welcome resonsibility.
What was my challenge? I am preparing my Master’s thesis, the topic of which studies one of the foreign policy measures whose greater astonishment and interest woke me up to the governmment of Nestor Kirschner: the early repayment of IMF debt. In my view, this measure symbolizes one of the paradigm changes that Kirchner entered into Argentinian foreign policy and that today, fortunately, has an overwhelming consensus in the area: the quest for a greater degree of autonomy to achieve a development model based on the reduction of social inequalities, a model that, additionally, must be defended by the same foreign policy. The Fellowship was inspired by his legacy and my thesis has him as its main protagonist, so what better that to merge the two together.
You see, my initial expectations were quite specific: searching for constructive criticism; seeking debate; looking to problematize the path my work is taking in one of the academic communities that has most worked on the States-IMF link and its effects and within a university that prides itself not only on its high academic standards, but also on its knowledge and comprehension of Latin American reality and perspective; seeking exchange, to leave the solitary state of the writer to put the work on the table, to think of it through the reflections and diagnostics of others and to enrich it with innovative approaches.
However, once at The New School, I realized that this Fellowship presented an opportunity that far exceeded my expectations. For two weeks, being an “PNK Fellow”, allowed me to enrich myself in a manner I didn’t expect.
For one thing, the eagerness and perceived interest in my work and my ideas were quite motivating, as was the generosity that I felt during every business meeting. I had access, I exchanged and debated with people of high standing who treated me with the respect of an equal and with the warmth and patience that further ignites someone who hasn’t seen as much. I was not a guest, “I was part”.
I witnessed discussions about my ideas by several of these accomplished people. A true luxury. I had support and was motivated to improve my work through the contributions of a new community that validates ideas, that had wanted to hear and know.
It was an opportunity to connect with a big city – New York, its logic, its customs, its codes, its people. It may sound frivolous, but to discover, to know and to live among other realities is a profoundly enriching experience. This was also an aim of the Fellowship, which I successfully achieved.
Back in Argentina, this Fellowship has turned into many books to read that wait impatiently on my desk. Into ideas and projects to develop. Into new challenges.
In this way, this Fellowship is a simple and grandiose opportunity. It is for everyone – as much for those who believe that Néstor Kirchner was a transformer and who share his ideas, as well as for those who don’t. Regardless of the place in which one finds onself, to be a “PNK Fellow” implies a responsibility to form and utilize all that is learned as a tool for the benefit of the majority within our respective countries and our region, wherever it may touch us. It means to be a professional engaged with one’s ideas. It means to take care of the place that we occupy and that we can occupy in the story of our people.
This “Fellowship Network” is growing. My suggestion: “come and see”.
Buenos Aires, December 2011
Read more about the President Néstor Kirchner Fellowship Program