(Editor’s Note: This blog is written by Public Affairs intern Rebecca Seawell, who joined the Marshall Center in July.)
I still remember the first time I heard about the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. I was listening to the Armed Forces Network radio show, and heard the Marshall Center infomercial. Curious, I researched the center and found a great deal of information about the center’s outreach programs and academics. The sheer amount of information overwhelmed me and I found it difficult to define what the Marshall Center was all about.
Now that I am actually here, I find it easier to comprehend the focus of the center. Simply put, the center enables dialogue despite diversity in the hope of a better future.
I discovered the importance of dialogue on my first day. I conversed with the public affairs staff, members of the center staff, and Germans who live here. I gathered the facts I craved: how to get to work without getting lost; the number of countries the center’s programs include (110 to date); how many different nations are represented on the Marshall Center staff (11); and the available languages for participants (English, Russian and German).
Inspired by those around me and my own perceptions, I concluded that the center acts as a safe haven for both expression and conversation between course participants. Located in the Bavarian Alps, where the view outside is postcard-perfect, I can’t imagine anyone feeling unwelcome. But the real beauty of the center is that it creates an opportunity for its students which, in different circumstances, might never occur at all.
The Marshall Center also creates the opportunity for more intricate forms of dialogue – the exchange of ideas, opinions and discussions aimed at conflict-resolution. An open forum exists here for students to better understand one another; for nations in conflict to learn more about one another; and, most importantly, for the possibility of a peaceful future.
In learning more about workings of the Marshall Center, I discovered that the stress on dialogue is not unwarranted. Not only does it take place in the classrooms, but also at events such as Culture Night, where students can learn about and explore the cultures of their colleagues. Dialogue also takes place between Americans and the German community surrounding the center.
Dialogue is happening right now.
And as I begin my internship here, I hope to begin a diablogue, or the exchange of ideas and opinions through this forum and others, including regular email, our Facebook page, our Twitter feed and more.
During my stay, I hope to further discover what the Marshall Center embodies in the community and to its students. I also share the Marshall Center’s message through dialogue with those around me –and diablogue, with you.