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As Canada turns 150 this year, our northern neighbors have extended invitations to Americans to help develop a vision for Canada’s place in the world. On Sept. 23, Fulbright Canada will begin its weeklong Youth Institute on Canada in the World, bringing 10 American and 10 Canadian undergraduate and graduate students to Ottawa, Ontario and Quebec City, Quebec. From a pool of applicants competing for the limited number of American spots available, two Barrett students were awarded the opportunity to participate: junior Anirudh Koka and senior Mikkaela Salamatin.
Salamatin, a finance major with minors in French and sustainability, has long been interested in international relations.
“I was extremely involved in high school speech and debate, which initially sparked my interest in international issues,” Salamatin said. “Since coming to college, however, I hadn’t been able to do very much in relation to that interest. This opportunity seemed like an interesting way I could explore it while actively using my education to help other people.”
Koka, majoring in economics and global politics, also saw the Youth Institute as a way to explore his interests.
“I was inspired to apply because I’m really interested in foreign relations and international economies,” Koka said.
As Koka and Salamatin prepare for a week of policy formulation, debates, cultural activities and more, they look forward to learning more about Canadian-American relations. For Koka, the weeklong Youth Institute promises to provide insight into Canada’s role within multilateral organizations and economic unions.
“I’m particularly interested in how Canadian-U.S. bilateral relations manifest themselves in the multilateral organizations like NATO,” Koka said. “Why does Canada want the U.S. to assert itself internationally? I’m also fascinated in economic unions such as NAFTA, and I want to learn more about how the trade deal affects Canadians.”
As for Salamatin, the Youth Institute will give her an opportunity to learn about Canadian sustainability issues.
“I am particularly interested in how Canada can choose to react to different decisions made by the U.S.,” said Salamatin. “Issues regarding climate change and sustainable energies are really interesting to look at, and I hope to have the opportunity to discuss them during the program.”
Koka and Salamatin both expect the Youth Institute to be instrumental in achieving their future goals.
“One day I hope to be in a career that allows me to work with foreign relations in terms of international development and international law,” Salamatin said. “I am passionate about being an agent of change and promoting more inclusive perspectives on global citizenship, and through this program I hope to not only develop meaningful relationships with some of Canada and America's greatest young minds, but to also develop the skills necessary to pursue and effect impactful change in my future career.”
Koka also feels the skills he will develop through the Youth Institute will help his career.
"I want to use my background in economics and international affairs to work with governments and non-profit organizations in developing nations to enact fiscal and social policy that expands access to education,” Koka said. “I think the Youth Institute will give me practical experience debating and designing policy that will be invaluable for me later in life.”
Koka and Salamatin are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss Canadian foreign policy with fellow participants, diplomats and government officials. As the Youth Institute takes place in both Ottawa — the capital of Canada — and Quebec City, within French-speaking province Quebec, students also have a variety of cultural experiences to take advantage of.
Salamatin, for one, hopes to put her French knowledge to work in Quebec. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn a bit about Quebecois French and utilize my French language skills to further develop my relationships with the people I meet in Canada,” she said.
And Koka, a self-proclaimed history nerd, is looking forward to spending a week in two historical hubs of Canada.
“I’m really excited to visit all the historic places in Ottawa and Quebec City, and getting a better understanding of the Canadian experience,” said Koka.
He adds: “Most of all, I’m ready to absorb everything. I know I’m going to learn so much.”