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Fulbright Scholar from Estonia Represents ODU at Two Conferences

By Joe Garvey

Nikita Lumijõe, an Old Dominion University Ph.D. student in the international studies program, recently represented the University two conferences - the Presidential Precinct's 2019 Global Leadership Forum in at the University of Virginia and the PONARS Eurasia Annual Policy Conference at George Washington University.

Lumijõe is from Estonia and is a Fulbright Scholar in his first semester at ODU. He has a bachelor's degree in public administration from Tallinn University of Technologies and master's degree in EU-Russia studies from the University of Tartu.

The Global Leadership Forum brought together 24 emerging leaders from around the world to discuss collaborative solutions for social impact and support of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. These goals have 169 targets, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

"To meet these targets, we need to think strategically and be ambitious," Lumijõe said. "In the times of growing governmental tribalism, cross-sector collaboration is becoming especially relevant."

Forum participants examined cases of effective cross-sector partnerships between business, government, universities and nonprofits.

"For me and young leaders from Africa, America, Asia and Europe who participated in the forum, this experience was a source of inspiration, critical thinking and collaborative problem solving that will help us advance in efforts to create positive change in our countries and communities," he said.

Lumijõe said they also strengthened their leadership capacities and networking skills through workshops.

"The Presidential Precinct's Global Leadership Forum is an extremely competitive award, and I knew that Nikita was up against some of the best scholars," said Sharon Pitney, outreach coordinator for the for ODU's Office of International Programs (OIP). "I also knew, based on the strength of his application, that he was more than up to the challenge. It was a great honor for ODU to have Nikita selected to take part in this premier multi-regional gathering of young professionals."

The PONARS Conference, which was held in September, featured more than 40 experts from various countries who discussed political and economic changes of developing countries in Eurasia with the accent on the China, Russia and the West factor. The Ukraine, Central Asia and political developments in Central and Eastern Europe were significant points of discussion.

Pitney believes the chance to attend events such as these is extremely valuable.

"This inspires us to keep offering extracurricular opportunities to our students and reminds us that we have amazing students on campus doing great things," she said.

The Office of International Programs provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world. Known for coordinating scholarships and grants to faculty and students for a number of global opportunities, OIP also administers internationally recognized, State Department-sponsored programs such as the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program, Global UGRAD-Pakistan, LASPAU and World Learning programs.

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