Students in action for democracy in Hungary
© Amnesty International

Last masterclass of the season

Spend your free Saturday visiting a masterclass? That sure doesn’t sound very student-like. Nonetheless, me and about 50 other students voluntarily did precisely this. The reason was the Amnesty Masterclass on the 9th of June about illiberal democracy Hungary, a European country that has seen some significant illiberal changes during the past years. Apparently, a lot more was happening in Hungary than Sziget-festival and people eating goulash.

My job during the masterclass, as a Communication Intern, consisted of taking pictures for social media, registering the participants and welcoming the guest speakers. This last group consisted of some very interesting people. The first to enter was Júlia Iván, head of Amnesty Hungary. Arne Muis, former colleague at Strategic Studies and future diplomat followed shortly after. And it was Judith Sargentini, member of the European Parliament, who completed our group of guest speakers.

Interesting speakers

At 11:00 AM, the room was filled with students and the speakers started the masterclass. Each one spoke about the politically difficult situation in the illiberal democracy Hungary, shining their personal light on the matter. Especially Júlia grabbed the attention of the audience when she expressed the frustration and hardship she experienced with the Orbán-led government while trying to successfully lead Amnesty in Hungary. The students then assembled in groups and got a chance to help Júlia the challenges she faces in Hungary by coming up with campaign and advocacy strategies. After this they enthusiastically and professionally presented their ideas in front of the jury and Júlia, who were very happy with the results.

I spend most of the day looking through the lens of a small Canon camera, in order to shoot as much useful footage for social media as possible. I learned that to get the perfect shot as a photographer, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. This became especially clear to me as I was standing on the edge of our 10-meter high rooftop while shakely trying to record a video showing the cool Amnesty-action at the end of the day. The result of which is on our instagram (@amnestystudentnl).

Great success

This action marked the end of the masterclass, and it was time for very student-like after-masterclass drinks. Overall, the day was a great success with a very enthusiastic group and interesting speakers. Sadly, this was the last masterclass for this school year and my internship with Amnesty ends in just a few weeks. But luckily, we still have some very interesting masterclasses coming up to look forward to in September, so stay tuned!