8. December 2014 Jonáš Jelínek


Coming back to the US was like déjà-vu. Though I never lived in New York before, I spent four years living in Boston so I was fairly well prepared for the diverse atmosphere of the City.

I tremendously enjoyed the orientation week. The first few days are always very unique and very exciting – new environments, new people, and great conversations. Since everyone else is new to the program, approaching people and making friends is not difficult. Even after months have passed, I am still in touch with people I met during those first few days, who hail from a diverse array of countries such as Afghanistan, South Africa, China, Japan, Germany, Nepal, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, or Peru.

At Columbia, I am concentrating in International Security and specializing in Conflict Resolution. This semester, I have particularly enjoyed three classes. The first one, titled “Intelligence and Foreign Policy," deals with the policy/intelligence nexus and various issues regarding intelligence and intelligence agencies. It is taught by a former, high-level CIA officer. The second class I have enjoyed is “Modern Urban Terrorism," taught by the former director of intelligence analysis at NYPD. The third class, which is part of the prestigious International Fellows Program that I was selected for, is focused on the US role in world affairs. The only other Czech Columbia SIPA student and a now a great friend of mine, Filip, is also in that class.

Aside from classes, I have participated in a variety of other events at Columbia and at the International House, the student residence where I live. Some of the most memorable experiences include a meeting with Professor Jan Svejnar, a group discussion with the UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous, a Nigerian cultural hour, and a weekend-long retreat in upstate New York for students interested in conflict resolution. In addition, I am also working on a few projects with LITE-Africa, the same NGO I worked for during this summer in Nigeria.

Most importantly, though, I mustered all my courage in September…and asked my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes! As a result, a substantial portion of my semester has also been spent on wedding preparations - from choosing the venue and floral designs, to making invitations and a guest list.

I indeed cannot wait to see what the next few months shall bring!

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