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Transformation After the Iron Curtain: Iron Sharpens Iron in Central and Eastern Europe

Posted August 3, 2017 by Danny Du '20

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wheaton-college-iron-sharpens-iron-2017This summer, the Wheaton Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI) team went on a journey to the land of Central and Eastern Europe: (in sequence) the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Germany. Almost 30 years ago, in November 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the beginning of the end of the Iron Curtain. Thirty years later, the dynamic political and economic transformations have reshaped these formerly Communist societies. 

Coming from Shanghai, China, I chose to attend Wheaton College primarily for the freedom to worship and its phenomenal liberal arts community. I dream to become an international political economist. Therefore, as a freshman seeking a double major in economics and international relations, I was thrilled to discover this opportunity to travel with politics and economic professors and together, and strived to fathom the dynamic changes in post-Communist development. It has undoubtedly been a rewarding experience. 

A typical day on the ISI trip started with a morning devotion. Each team member took one-day responsibility in a rotating fashion. We shared with each other our meditation on the Scriptures and how they related to the work that we were accomplishing. The business/political visit usually began between 9-9:30 a.m. During our approximately 30 business and political visits, we met with people ranging from the German Minister of Health to Estonian church leaders. Most of the evenings were spent on our own. Unquestionably, we took advantage of the free time to explore the history of European neighborhoods or have a taste of local cuisine.

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Among all our visits, our trip to the headquarters of the World Bank in Poland was especially fascinating. Since it was established in Warsaw in 1991—the year the world witnessed the rebirth of free Poland—the World Bank has played a crucial role in Poland’s post-Socialist economic transition by facilitating corporations between government and private sectors. 

“Today’s Poland has become Europe’s ‘growth champion,’” asserted Dr. Carlos Piñerúa, the World Bank Country Manager for Poland. “European integration, expansion in the quantity and quality of education, and successful macroeconomic policies all contributed to Poland’s economic miracle.” 

It was eye-opening to get exclusive insights from the World Bank’s top executives regarding internal structures, project management, and long-term objectives. 

I am grateful to the Wheaton Center for Faith, Politics, and Economics for organizing such an exceptional study program, and to those generous donors who made the trip significantly more affordable. 

My experience in the Wheaton Iron Sharpens Iron program provided me with the chance to meet with world renowned leaders in the fields of politics and economics, empowered me the ability to look through my professional career and most importantly, made me acknowledge the situation of churches in different parts of the world. Thus, don’t hesitate my fellow Wheaties!, join this fabulous adventure in 2019!

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Danny Du ’20 is a double major in economics and international relations with a minor in math who participated in Wheaton’s Iron Sharpens Iron trip during summer 2017. Photo captions (from top): The Wheaton ISI team in the Czech Republic; the Wheaton ISI team visits the Czech Investment Group offices; the Wheaton ISI team at the American Embassy in Germany.

To learn more about Wheaton's Iron Sharpens Iron program, visit their website. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

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