by Laneydi Martínez Alfonso, 2015-2016 President Néstor Kirchner Fellow
President Néstor Kirchner Fellowship: an exceptional contribution to young scholars and leaders in LAC.
Being selected as a PNKF was a fantastic news; but actually visiting and experiencing The New School University (TNS) and particularly the Observatory on Latin America (OLA) in the heart of such a wonderful city as New York, has been one of the most extraordinary events of my life. This was a first hand, excellent and unique opportunity to exchange with professors and students mostly from TNS, but also from other institutions such as the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at United Nations.
Concerning my research, I learned a lot and had fruitful exchanges and received very thoughtful and critical comments from scholars and PhD students, all of which enriched my paper/presentations and will be helpful as I write a new version of the paper. Feeling the innovative, inter-disciplinary and alternative spirit of academics in TNS was a source of inspiration for me and it confirmed my own professional and personal goal of using my academic background to actively think on policy recommendations for the LAC as region and especially my country, Cuba.
As a Cuban, I arrived to New York in a very particular moment in US-Cuba relations: Obama had just announced he would travel to Cuba, the first sitting American president to visit the island in 88 years. In this context, there was a lot of curiosity about the economic, social and political changes in Cuba among the many people that I met at TNS, but also a willingness to discuss them and find ways to increase collaborations, particularly with my institution, the University of Havana.
If at the professional level the experience was rewarding, at the personal level it exceeded all my initial expectations. I found in OLA not only an excellent working team but also very warm and sensitive human beings who I plan to remain in touch with. I feel as though I am part of the OLA family in the region and I look forward to working with its members. PNKF makes an exceptional contribution to the formation of scholars and young leaders in the LAC region and towards building a better future in the LAC. Thanks to UNSAM, Studley, OLA and The New School University!
Cuba, March 2016