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W hen 15 Years of Filipino IOB Alumni Seminar successfully carried out , elections can consolidate peace Finding the right balance regarding the timing of elections is key to avoid further conflicts Organising There is no single path to democracy as it is very context-specific elections too soon can represent a political challenge when electoral capacity building (institutional setups for organising elections’ process) is weak Elections raise major dilemma’s, e.g.: should we allow rebel leaders to participate in the elections or rather prosecute them for war crimes? In some post-conflict settings, elections are reduced to a security risk: they are internationally considered successful if they do not lead to large scale violence The dictators' learning curve: over the last 20 years, autocratic regimes have internalized the discourse on democracy and have learned how to handle international agendas In Burundi, DRC and Rwanda, never a democratically elected president has been replaced by another democratically elected head of state. Alumni meet & greet 12 On the 3rd of October 2014 an IOB alumni Meet and Greet session was organised in Yaoundé, Cameroun @ café Dolce Vita. The get-together was hosted by Dr. Rogers Orock (IOB postdoctoral researcher). There were 10 participants, of whom 4 alumni present and 4 prospective candidates who were interested in hearing about study possibilities at IOB. Our discussions focused very much on the potential for an IOB alumni association for Cameroon to be established, the possible activities this could promote and what support it could possibly expect from IOB in the future. Nostalgia is not a strong word in my repertoire of habits but, nostalgia I did feel upon receiving the invitation to attend the 15 Years of Filipino IOB Alumni Seminar on December 5, 2014. Memories of trying to speak guttural Dutch in the morning while trying to articulate nasal French in the afternoon made me cringe inside. The laughter I elicited from Prof. Lemarchand when I reported about the Shiite Muslims and mispronounced the word made me shake my head and smile. When I crashed my bike in the sidewalk and sprawled in the pavement with all my books catapulting everywhere, I hastily prepared some witty rhetoric to save my bruised ego but was surprised and gladdened that people came to my rescue with faces of concern – no smirks, no laughter, no unconcerned stares. I received plain and simple sympathy for my accident. I said a little prayer of gratitude that I was in Belgium, studying at the University of Antwerp. I was still reminiscing when I arrived at the National Economic Development Authority building. I looked for familiar faces and was not disappointed to find Prof. German Calfat and old friends who are fellow alumni. After pleasantries were made, the discussions that followed were sharp, witty and straightforward which reminded me that I am in the c ompany of the crème de la crème of the Philippines. There was a swelling of pride to be a part of the select few who were educated in our alma mater which is ranked 164 by the World University ranking and 14th of young universities (under 50 years) at present, has 3,420 international students out of its 20,109 student population. True to the University’s mission statement of being a young, dynamic and forward-thinking university which integrates the assets of its historical roots with its ambition to contribute positively to society, the four examples of academic and policy oriented research which were presented spoke of the discussants’ wide grasp of the topics and the deep analyses of the variables and their correlations. Some were, in fact, so deeply analyzed that I struggled to comprehend them. Some of my old friends would interject whispered comments of not agreeing with the findings of the discussants. Mr. Xavier Leblanc, Counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium said “no wonder Filipino students excel in Belgium as manifested by the quality of research work you’ve done. You are worthy of the tax payers’ money”. Indeed, the UA-IOB has effectively advanced the concept of academic freedom and inculcated critical thinking Upcoming meet & greets February 2015, Dr. Ingelaere will be hosting an IOB Meet and Greet session in Kigali, Rwanda. All IOB alumni and prospective IOB students are welcome! The exact date and venue will be communicated shortly. 8th of February 2015 at 12.00 a.m. @ Hotel La Palmeraie , Prof. Vandeginste and Dr. Ingelaere will be hosting an IOB Meet and Greet session in Bujumbura, Burundi. All IOB alumni and prospective IOB students are welcome! into our minds. The seminar started and ended on time, which again, is in sharp contrast with our much to be improved Filipino time. We walked to Sophia’s villa for the alumni dinner while reminiscing that walking is a way of life that we embraced in Belgium. The sumptuous meal and the karaoke that followed further strengthened the bond that could only be appreciated by those who shared the same experience while studying in our alma mater. We listened with glee while Prof. Calfat did his rendition of the song “Que sera sera”. All took their turn to sing their hearts out, unmindful of their effect on the auditory sense of those present. As the night progressed, I was convinced that these select few could be the next think tank of Philippine society - the chosen few who have the capability and the ethical philosophy to lead the country into progress. As the gathering came to a conclusion, farewells were said, small kisses exchanged and hands shaken with promises to stay in touch with one another. The words of Prof. Calfat made me smile with pride: “This is the best IOB alumni seminar”, he declared. Lani Tang, Ph.D Master in Governance and Governance, 2003 13