One week ago, GIP Tunisia students landed, safely, back in snowy NYC. For many of us, this was the end of the road, after weeks and weeks of international travel. Our week in Tunisia was quick, fast and in a hurry, and many of us are only now starting to digest what we learned. A few, quick takeaways from the perspective of this blogger, that I want to remember from my time in Tunisia:
1. Tunisia is transitioning to a democracy, and is well positioned to be highly successful in the coming years. The government passed a new Constitution on January 24th, which – legally – puts the democratic transition in to motion. Tunisians endured decades of autocratic rule under their previous leadership, and they are EXCITED about the prospect of free markets, improving economic conditions, and exposure to international investment. The next few years will be critical; the Tunisian government must remain stable, and must create the conditions for domestic economic improvement and continued international investment.
2. Tunisia needs international investment, and the support of the international community. It is poised to be the first Muslim-majority, democratic country in the world. This is worth supporting! It’s neighbors (Algeria, Egypt, etc) could benefit from the positive influence of a stable, democratic country in the North African region.
3. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Tunisia definitely have room for improvement. Under the old regime, Tunisian’s were afraid to speak out against the government, or to suggest that things in the country could be improved. Now that these restrictions have been lifted, Tunisian’s must be encouraged to comment on current events, suggest improvements, and hold their leaders accountable. This will have positive economic, social, and political benefits that will help to move the country forward.
I could write a lot more about our trip, and about the lessons that we learned. But I also know that keeping these blogs to three points makes them much more digestible, and increases the likelihood that readers will…READ!
So I will close there, and say that I am grateful for my experience in Tunisia, and for the excellent programming organized by Professor Jedidi. I’m hooked on GIP, and will be taking another course this spring.
Thanks for reading!
Katie Horgan ’14