"It was living in an environment that nurtures activism, with people educating themselves about world issues, that led to my interest in international relations."
Bucknell changed Abbey Radis’s ’06 life. And now she is helping change the world.
The 23-year old, who graduated last spring from Bucknell with a B.A in international relations and French, spent the last year as assistant to U.K. Chair of the Balkans Peace Park Project (BPPP).
The BPPP is seeking to create a protected area encompassing sections of the borders of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
According to Radis, the initiative has several goals: to promote communication between nations torn by war and fiscal strife; to save from environmental destruction a region of great wild beauty; and to help bring, though sustainable development, economic stability to residents. It is, adds Radis, "a wonderful, very optimistic set of goals."
Her dedication to the cause has taken Radis around the globe. She’s presented on behalf of the Balkans Peace Park (BPP) at conferences in Canada, attended meetings in Montenegro and assisted at the BPPP headquarters in England. In April, Radis returned to Bucknell, where she spoke about the BPP to friends, former professors and others interested in the initiative.
It was "a thrilling experience,"she says, perhaps made all the more so because it is through the university that Radis came to be involved with the BPP.
As a first-year student from Boulder, Colo., Radis expected to eventually enter the medical field. She worked at the campus health center, but found her head turned from her stint in the Social Justice Residential College. "It was living in an environment that nurtures activism, with people educating themselves about world issues, that led to my interest in international relations," Radis explains.
She was also active in the Environmental Club and helped found the Inter-Group Dialogue Program, grappling with concerns that would resurface in her work with the BPP.
During her junior year abroad, she became familiar with the BPP through internships at Geneva’s World Conservation Union and the International Institute of Sustainable Development. A gangbusters senior thesis about the Peace Park led to her position with the BPPP.
Now living in D.C. and working for the Moroccan American Center, a lobbyist group, Radis still devotes plenty of time to the Peace Park. This fall she will present her thesis at the International Peace Park Conference in Canada, and she hopes to found a U.S. BPP non-profit.
Currently considering law school, Radis acknowledges that wherever she goes, she will bring her passion for the Peace Park with her. "Once you get involved, and you meet the people living there who feel so strongly about it … it’s connected to me now."
Posted Summer 2007