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Ilia Calogero Curto Pelle

AB in Classics, Princeton University – USA

Period of internship: Jun 01 - Jul 31, 2020

I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Center for the Study of Democracy’s Economic Program for two months. My tasks included the creation of a literature review for the project on Chinese Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the preparation of a study detailing the different scandals in the sectors of infrastructure, wholesale pharmaceuticals, and wholesale fuels in Italy during the last 3 years for SceMaps, and the study of pro-authoritarian tendencies among Bulgarian MEPs by comparing their official websites and votes on pivotal European Parliament resolutions with their stance on authoritarianism in Russia and China in interviews, articles, and speeches.

During my stay at CSD, I learnt a lot from the incredibly dedicated staff members of the Economic Program. Despite my internship taking place in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Director of the Program, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, and my supervisor, Martin Vladimirov, did their best to make me feel welcome and informed about all the tasks that I had to complete. I hope to use my stay at CSD and the increased knowledge I received on state capture, corruption, and foreign influence both in my undergraduate study and in my prospective career in academia. I had the fortune of working in an international team, which included people from all over the world, each with their own specific educational focus. I found the chance to cooperate with them on the different tasks fun, exciting, and enriching. I would like to express my gratitude to the entire team for every piece of information and advice that they gave me and for allowing me to join them in their endeavors in such a trying time as 2020 was. I would recommend that everyone who has even a passing interest in politics, international relations, and economics consider the prospect of interning at CSD, as it is one of the most rewarding experiences that they can acquire.

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