These past two weeks, the CEELI staff has been completely devoted to its Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is a chance for the CEELI board members and other friends of the institute to gather and hear about all the work and progress CEELI has made over the past year. This is an incredibly important event for the Institute, as it gives CEELI's biggest supporters and donors a glance into all the good work that CEELI is able to do.
In the week leading up to the meeting, I tried to provide as much help as possible. This consisted mostly of putting together welcome packets, making name tags, and continue my research. I was also able to sit in on meetings where all the final details were debated and finalized. This was a great experience, seeing how much effort and work goes into legal programs and seminars. And all of our hard work paid off, as the Annual Meeting was definitely a success.
The week started with a barbecue reception at the Villa on Sunday night. Not only was I able to enjoy some delicious food, but I also met some fascinating individuals, both American and Czech, who are doing great work to promote the rule of law around the world.
The meeting itself, which took place all day Monday, was made up of talks and panels discussing the biggest issues that CEELI works to address - promoting civil society organizations, organizing the efforts of lawyers around the globe, creating strategies to respond to democratic and legal repression, just to name a few. The CEELI staff was able to give spotlight talks on its different programming - these spotlights showed how truly global rule of law initiatives can be. A highlight of the day was hearing from the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Andrew Schapiro, about how the U.S. Embassy has focused on anti-corruption and increasing transparency in the Czech Republic, something the CEELI institute also incorporates into its work. Mr. Schapiro's talk was very inspiring - it also allowed me to draw comparisons between government and NGO work. Both can do great things, but through very different means.
On Tuesday, CEELI's board met for an all-day meeting to discuss the successes and failures of the past year, and also to plan for the next upcoming year. I set in and was proud to see how passionate the Board is about CEELI's work. The Annual Meeting ended Tuesday afternoon.
However, we don't get much time to rest and recover. Starting Wednesday, we have three more programs to facilitate this week. I will be working with Barbora, one of CEELI's program officers, during the Judicial Exchange Network meeting. The Judicial Exchange Network is a group of young judges from central and eastern European countries who meet a few times a year to discuss issues and problems that their judiciary is facing. The Network has also published a Judicial Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice - a compilation of international standards concerning judicial independence. If interested, you can read more about the manual here: http://ceeliinstitute.org/judicial-manual/
While this has been a busy and tiring two weeks, it's been very fufilling and a great learning experience for a fledging lawyer-to-be, like myself.
Coffee Source http://www.coffeesource.eu/
Coffee Source is the cafe closest to Havlickovy Sady, the park where I live and work. Luckily, it's also one of the best coffee shops in Prague (second only behind La Boheme, which I mentioned in Week 4's post). I visit Coffee Source almost every morning - so much so that the three baristas that work there know my order (soy latte for take away) and usually have it waiting for me! When I have the time, I sit in the little garden in the back, which is one of the most beautiful cafe gardens in Prague. Out of all the wonderful things in Prague that I will miss when I return home, Coffee Source is definitely at the top of the list.