Being a student in a foreign land can have its ups and downs. With no family to financially support you, the daily dosage of adult life can feel a little overwhelming. Owing to these factors I decided to join the CEU Phonathon Campaign initiated and managed by the Alumni Relations Office for some extra cash. Boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise!
From the detailed orientation to the final week, it was nothing short of a great experience, filled with free pizzas and genuine encouragement! Under the unyielding guidance of Biljana Lalic, alumni fundraising coordinator, we were given extensive training on how to call CEU alumni to invite them to the upcoming Alumni Reunion Weekend and to strike a chord with them to participate in the budding culture of philanthropy that CEU is trying to encourage and promote in Eastern Europe. By enabling the alumni community to give back to their alma mater, CEU is doing much more than ensuring an ever-growing, sustainable fund for future students; it is also creating an ever-growing community of researchers and professionals dedicated to free education.
Stretched over a period of five weeks, selected students were to call the thriving alumni community from our very own cozy call center situated in the Political Science Department building right across the street from the main campus. Students were trained and assisted throughout the hours of their own choice by special student supervisors with prior experience. Many students, like myself, got a chance to directly interact with alumni from our respective departments and get acquainted with their professional growth. This not only comforted many of us graduating this year but gave current students ideas regarding their budding future plans.
Receiving heartfelt advice and hearing nostalgic anecdotes from the alumni was all that we needed to make us love CEU even more. Most alumni had the fondest of memories to share and many wanted to contribute in whichever way to keep CEU up and running. Many reminisced about the streets of Budapest and their carefree days while many shared exciting future plans and recent personal developments. It was a unique experience to talk to alumni from one’s own country which proved to be a sweet reminder of home for many of us. We even managed to call some CEU couples!
The practice of weekly meetings with free pizzas was always the highlight of the week where all of us managed to interact more familiarly with each other and share our interesting interactions in a safe environment. This exercise and the whole phonathon experience managed to add more friends to my list and helped me to meet different people from different backgrounds and departments in a fun and open way.
Throughout the project, I felt loved and supported by the entire team and we all managed to raise a good amount of funds to secure the tradition of academic scholarships for coming students. Being an Alumni Scholarship Recipient myself, I know the worth of even a small contribution, which together adds up into the tangible realization of an individual’s dream to pursue higher education in one of the World’s top-ranked universities.
I am very thankful for this invigorating experience, for the friends I made and the skills I learned and will always cherish it next to many heartwarming memories of CEU with the hope that prospective students never feel alone in Budapest and know that CEU has got your back!
By Zainab Najeeb, MA student in the Department of Gender Studies at CEU