Amelia Levitt-Smith ’23

Central European University, Austria

This summer I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the rector and dean of the Central European University (CEU). The Central European University was founded by philanthropist George Soros and is an institution of advanced research and teaching, dedicated to socially and morally responsible intellectual inquiry. CEU is committed to promoting the values of open society and self-reflective critical thinking. It aims at excellence in the mastery of established knowledge; courage to pursue the creation of new knowledge in the humanities, the social sciences, law and management; and engagement in promoting applications for each, in particular through their policy implications. CEU is a new model for international education, a center for the study of contemporary economic, social and political challenges, and a source of support for building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity.

For my research position I was immediately given trust and freedom to find the best and most useful sources in the archives. Rector Randeria initially helped me find example documents, but I felt in charge of my own learning and experience during this internship, which was a nice continuation of the independence I had been cultivating at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford.

I went to major archives around Europe and researched topics such as the rise of autocracy and other threats to democracy and found information helpful for the episode of the podcast we were working on. With my background in history and political science it was interesting and fulfilling to learn more about democracy around the world by looking at firsthand accounts and government documents. Throughout the internship I had the opportunity to meet with other people at CEU and formed valuable connections with people in the field of history around Europe. Through past summer internships I have worked in primary and high school education, but this was my first experience with higher education and I truly enjoyed it. I loved learning about CEU as an institution, the important work students pursue and the differences between American and European educational institutions.

I have been hooked on history since my first history class at Williams but was unsure how I could incorporate it into my life after college. This internship solidified my focus on the study of history and helped think about paths to pursue. I learned that I love doing archival research, and it opened up a number of jobs that I had never previously considered. I enjoyed engaging with the knowledgeable archivists who helped me with research and also helped me to better understand their profession and other roles within the archives. I particularly enjoyed interacting directly with the primary sources. This internship also allowed me to get valuable research experience that I will apply to my research for my honors thesis.

I am incredibly grateful to have been afforded this opportunity through the generosity of the members of the Class of 1974 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration, without whom I could not have had this impactful and important learning experience.