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The F word and others…

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My fellow graduates, we are finally here.

Can you imagine? There have perhaps been many times
along the way that we doubted that this moment would ever come… amongst
those the interesting challenges encompassed in EIA, SED, GIS, EPR,
PPP, CEM, and various other courses that may or may not have started with the acronyms that we have become so familiar with. After all, can we ever hear terms like pollution prevention pays and not think of Don Huisingh? Or the waste management hierarchy and not think of Zoltan Illes?

Of course Sustainable Development is associated to
our director, Aleh Cherp; environmental economics to Lars Hansson,
Environmental Policy to Alexios Antypas and Environmental Politics to
Tamara Steger. Forever, in hearing the term ecosystem management
we will conjure up memories of our trip last year to Lesvos. Indeed, we
have had more courses than perhaps we can remember the titles of, but
the lessons and learning will not be forgotten.

Together we explored climate change, humans and the
biosphere, statistics, and who could forget our early-morning
monitoring session at the Four Seasons Hotel to check for lichen
abundance in order to measure Budapest’s changing air quality.

Beyond the abundant course loads though, we did
somehow manage to experience the amazing places that we had the
opportunity to live. MESPOM has indeed been an adventure and the
memories are as endless as the assignments, the presentations, the
exams, or the crazy nights at Szimpla, and the early morning palenka on
our field trips.

We have endured interesting, eclectic and often unique academic and cultural experiences. Who could forget the opera-singing cats or the winery tour ‘that had the legs of a woman dressed in red stockings and high heals.’
We have endured visits to nuclear-energy facilities, incinerator
plants, and water treatment centres. Somehow we have also managed to
survive the extensive feastings of the Chinese hot pot tradition
motivated by Chunyu, Lijan and Mengmeng and the wild adventure that was
Georgios´s birthday last year in Lesvos in which Deepak joined in the
festivity a day early by taking a spontaneous and unexpected plunge
into Mitilini Harbour.

After Greece, we said goodbye to our fellow CEU
students, as well as to each other, taking on a new adventure and new
directions in Manchester and Lund. For those of us in Lund, we will not
forget ‘Lovish’s office’, Rachelle’s dinners, Anja’s treats or the late
night assignment sessions we spent together in the IIIEE library.
However, while we have been physically apart from each other, through
the benefits of modern technology, we could keep in touch with Fatema,
Yulia or Zhanara on their latest adventure, Saatvika or Martino’s
change in thesis, Irina’s exciting internship, Ivana’s return to
Lesvos, Sonja and Gireesh’s latest energy report or all of the last
minute panic we each felt to finish somewhat on time.

Returning now to Budapest, we can properly reflect
on the opportunity, experience, and perhaps also the insanity that was
MESPOM. Together here where it started, we formed friendships,
challenged new ideas and patterns of thinking and learned extensively
from our amazing and experienced professors, and also from each other.

There have of course been struggles… sleepless
nights full of assignments, times of longing for our distant homes and
loved ones, multiple miscommunications, including trying new foods that
perhaps we were not anticipating. But we have also learned to open our
ears to new languages, our eyes to new settings and our minds to new
ideas…

Of course… so many times through all of it, the
best way to explain the circumstance or situation was simply lost in
translation or culture, and we can only know to laugh at our
misinterpretations in hindsight. After all, without MESPOM we would
never have learned about Brazilian sub-aquatic people or Bolivian carpets to store academic documents.

From each other and through our experiences
together, we have learned about the world… We have experienced cultural
traditions such as Tahia’s Bolivian dances or celebrated with Håkan
Rodhe as he encouraged us to hop around like small Swedish frogs in the
centre of Lund. We have tasted traditional foods including Hungarian
fish soap with Marta, and learned to say cheers in multiple languages
while enjoying Hungarian palenka, Greek ouzo, Swedish glögg, or English
cider. The phrase, ‘in my country’ has taught us so much about
global cultures, histories, geopolitics as well as the state of the
global environment. It has lended us knowledge and insight, but also
pragmatism to what we can and will achieve.

I can’t believe it is at the end. And yet, knowing I
have all of you to count as my lifelong friends, fellow environmental
warriors, and MESPOM FAMILY makes it an adventure that was worth it a
thousand times over. We have taught each other so much… academically,
personally and socially. We were the guinea pigs, but I think we did
pretty well in the end.

MESPOM has given direction, clarity and tools to
move forward. We all have all become more pragmatic and yet determined
regarding global environmental challenges, whilst harnessing new ideas
to work with those challenges… crafted in experience from field
trips, lectures, friendships, assignments and exams, and maybe a
‘sustainable’ beer or two.

Dear friends, you have been my teachers, my support
and strength, my hope… and I think it is safe to say; we have all
been each others’ frustration at times. 😉

Fellow graduates, or shall we say MESPOMERS, today
marks the end of our adventure together, and the beginning of something
new. MESPOM has been both our friend, and in times of endless work, our
enemy. It has been our teacher, and as the guinea pig batch, MESPOM has
also been our student.

Through it all though, I believe it is safe to say,
that for all of us, it has been an invaluable experience of learning
significant environmental concerns, engaging in activities and events,
discovering the hidden secrets of each other, and realizing that while
challenges do lie ahead, we have also gained the skills to seek
opportunities to work and tackle such challenges.

Thus, in conclusion, it is only appropriate to thank
the people who first got us here. First and foremost, Dr. Aleh Cherp
who’s vision brought MESPOM together. We are forever endowed to your
hard work, clarity, determination and persistence to making it possible
and allowing us to be here. To all of our amazing and inspiring
professors that have been both our teachers and our friends at CEU,
Lund, Lesvos and Manchester. And to the department directors, whose
excitement helped keep MESPOM ignited, and to the administrative
support at all universities who provided a foundation to ensure such a
programme survived.

Finally, to our parents who believed in us, and to
each other… for all the adventures, memories, tears and triumphs…
Accordingly, to the amazing personalities, nationalities and mad
brilliance that mixed together to shape and spice MESPOM Batch 1,
2005-2007: your thoughts, passion, insight and maybe even insanity
(myself included), will not be forgotten.

Thus, in the end, we are again at the beginning, but this time on a new adventure…

-Jennifer Lenhart

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