Meet Ukrainian Guru, PCA Erik Eppig!

erik-eppig-image

Name: Erik Eppig

Class Year: 2017

Major: History; Minor in International Studies

Favorite Class: Post-Communist Transitions

Favorite thing about BC: The well-rounded nature of the school within the Jesuit tradition

What can you see yourself doing after graduation?

I see myself working in the international sphere, specifically in Eastern Europe where I hope to start a career in foreign relations with a Think Tank or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Specifically, I am interested in working with civil society, anti-corruption, and democracy building initiatives in Ukraine.

What are you doing to get there?

I have applied for a Fulbright grant as an English Teaching Assistant in Ukraine, where I hope to foster greater comprehension of the English language among Ukrainian college students as a means of development. Alternatively, I am looking into post-graduate work and study programs throughout Eastern Europe as well as opportunities with international NGOs and aid organizations.

How did you learn about international civil society development?

I was first exposed to this field during a class trip to Israel and the West Bank last winter. There, we had the opportunity to meet with and learn from a number of local Israeli and Palestinian NGO leaders about the work they do in promoting a just resolution to the conflict. I was fascinated by the efforts being done on the ground, most of which had very little political support or funding and were truly society-based initiatives. In the back of my mind, I believe that I’ve always been motivated by my Jesuit education and living experiences abroad to pursue a career in the realm of international aid or civil society development.

What factors have contributed to your interest in international civil society development?

My interest in working with similar initiatives in Ukraine came about during my semester abroad, where I had the opportunity to travel to the country on two separate occasions. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the country, which starkly contrasts its reputation as an ongoing area of conflict, plagued by illicit finance and bureaucratic inefficiencies. In having the opportunity to experience the country for myself and meet with its people, I recognized Ukraine’s unrealized potential, something I am passionate about having a hand in promoting. In order for democracy to be effective, I recognize the significance of a strong civil society; something that I believe can be grown with a little international assistance.

What advice would you give to students who are also interested in international civil society development?

Know what your passion is and do whatever it takes to pursue it. This is not a conventional career path, but I recognize more and more how rewarding and important it can be. Therefore, it’s important to pinpoint what it is that your goal is, why you are interested in it, and how you plan on going about achieving this goal.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I don’t think that I have a greatest achievement yet, there’s still a lot of work to do.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My heroes are all individuals who risk life and limb to fight for what they believe in: human rights, democracy, economic freedom, etc. Many of these individuals do not receive the individual notoriety, but their efforts certainly do not go unnoticed.

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