The Virtual Institute hosted 73 students and teachers at UNCTAD April 15-19 for the sixth annual Vi study tour for Russian member universities. Counting with the largest participation to date, the one-week training programme involved all five Vi network academic institutions in the country: the State University Higher School of Economics, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the St. Petersburg State University, the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, and the North-West Institute.
"I could see how everything works in practice," commented one of the students. "I really appreciated the lectures and I think this week really contributed to my knowledge of economics. In addition, I got a lot of good ideas for my Master’s thesis and it reassured me of my wish to work for an international organization -- UNCTAD, maybe."
Experts from UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization and the International Trade Centre (ITC) introduced the students to the work of their organizations, as well as hot topics on the international economic agenda, such as the reform of the international financial architecture, the current state of the Doha Development Round, and the green economy.
"I was expecting to be faced with numerous complicated subjects and imagined an extremely official atmosphere of international organizations," another student said. "I was so mistaken! The issues we discussed were sometimes very specific but the presenters’ work was splendid. I understood everything and enjoyed every minute."
"What I really enjoyed here was the passion and interest with which the lectures were delivered," added another participant.
The students, from Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes in international economics, international relations and trade policy, also expanded their knowledge on science, technology and innovation, foreign direct investment, corporate social responsibility, trade logistics and trade facilitation, trade in services, trade remedies, and dispute settlement mechanisms, among others. Moreover, they had an opportunity to get acquainted with ITC's market research and analysis services, in particular Trade Map, Market Access Map and programme on non-tariff measures.
The group particularly appreciated the simulation exercise, in which the students assumed the roles of officials from various government ministries and agencies to advise the President on the position the country should take with regard to an investment proposal from a foreign company. In addition to applying their theoretical knowledge of teconomics and rade topics, the students discoverd the importance of developing presentation skills to be able to deal with a large audience, being able to express him/herself clearly and defend his/her opinions. Participants also stressed the importance of developing their the capacity to communicatie in English and the importance of team work and networking.
"Working in a team is difficult sometimes. It is crucial to find an understanding and meet half way while working on a project togethe," learned one of the students.
"I need to find some stronger measures to promote my point of view as the process of negotiations has become tougher than I thought it would be," realized another.
The study tour also included a visit to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, where the Ambassador and a team of trade counselors explained their work with UNCTAD, the WTO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe.