Photo for Armanda Serwah

Armanda Serwah

BA in Economics, Politics, and Social Thought (2021)

Where are you from and which program are you enrolled in at Bard College Berlin?

My name is Amy, I’m from Germany and Ghana, and I’m enrolled in the Economics, Politics, and Social Thought (EPST) track at BCB.

What drew you to Bard College Berlin and why did you ultimately decide to enroll as a student?

In my last two years of high school my interest in economics and politics developed immensely, which is why I decided to further my newly-found interest at a place where I could not only expand on the countless concepts I had only heard about, but also learn about the overlaps between them. Since the size of Berlin can be a little overwhelming at times, I was looking for a place that will allow me to grow alongside different people while creating my own space. I enjoy studying in English as it allows you to communicate with a wider spread of people. Since BCB offers the EPST track and has such a vibrant student body and faculty, I knew there will always be new ideas and opinions to explore and discuss, so I decided to apply to BCB and enroll in the EPST program. 

What do you like about student life and the community at Bard College Berlin?

I respect our community’s ability to constantly grow and inspire each other as well as to welcome new ideas. Civic engagement, for instance, plays a strong role in our community: Whether it is about BCB Goes Green making our campus more environmentally-friendly, Pankumenta bringing an arts festival to our campus, or the BCB Sparrows teaching languages to people in Pankow, at BCB there are always people eager to make a change not only in our community but also in Berlin and even further.

What do you enjoy about living in Berlin?

Cycling! As you cycle across Berlin, pedaling from district to district, you will never fail to experience how incredible this city is. I’m simply amazed by how much history, parks and cafes I’ve already grown familiar to. Some call Berlin “pretty-ugly,” I just think it’s really pretty, including the not so polished parts. At times I go to the lakes close to Brandenburg to spend an entire day there, reading books or listening to music. Also I like that Berlin is not too fast-paced, everyone really seems to be taking their time with whatever they’re doing.

Once I decided to spend an entire week checking out as many start-ups as possible. All the ones I visited were very laid back, always welcoming and constantly encouraging creativity and innovation. Berlin has a great variety of start-ups ranging from tech firms to NGOs, and some of my peers chose to intern in a startup or organization during their time at BCB.

Write briefly about one of your courses that left a lasting impression on you.

The class Introduction to Policy Analysis with Agatha Siwale which I took in Fall 2018 definitely left a lasting impression on me. One of our most memorable classes was when the Zambian ambassador to several countries in Europe, including Germany, came to visit us together with his assistant. He talked about the government’s decision to build a new airport, a very expensive project, and discussed the benefits received and the costs incurred by a variety of stakeholders in Zambia and abroad. Agatha encouraged us to ask all of our questions, many of which have been inspired by our classes and readings on policy making. When the ambassador talked about the Sino-Zambian relationship, which is a topic I’ve been really interested in throughout the past years, I was happy to see how different all of our arguments were. To me personally it was very valuable to have the chance to learn about the thoughts of the ambassador and especially of my peers and professor, instead of limiting my perspective to yet another newspaper article or academic paper.

How do you think the education you receive at Bard College Berlin will help you in the future? What does a liberal arts education mean to you?

The value and meaning of the liberal arts are a crucial aspect that has been contemplated by many European students, myself included, who have stepped out of their traditional academic setting to pursue something different. Years ago, finding out what that “something” means drove some of the students to start an annual conference called Liberal Education Student Conference. After having been a part of the conference in Utrecht two years ago, in 2019 a couple of peers and I decided to host the conference on the BCB campus, inviting liberal arts students from all over Europe for 5 days into our community.

One argument we all seemed to agree upon is that the liberal arts acknowledge what many traditional colleges fail to see: you cannot understand a subject in isolation of another, everything is intertwined. I’m not sure how I could attempt to understand economics without looking at the political structures in place that either stimulated or sometimes even stifled any kind of market or financial system. So, by being a student at BCB, I hope to acquire the ability to consider and then understand the larger context of a problem which may then help me in the future.