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STEAR in Review: A Look Back at 2021

On February 21st, we held the first-ever STEAR board meeting after having worked on our portfolio’s respective policies, strategies, and ideas – an activity that some of us were much more familiar with than others. In the spring, the Internal Affairs department – under Vice President for Internal Affairs Ziarla’s guidance – coordinated a recruitment campaign of considerable size, which has led to our #general channel on Slack containing 72 members at the time of writing, with over thirty countries represented in our truly international team.

Since that first meeting, the different portfolio’s have put in what I can only describe as an extraordinary amount of effort, at no one’s prompting but their own, into hosting a wide range of external events with high-profile speakers and internal events aimed at building professional skills and cross-cultural capacity, publishing over 60 online articles as well as our very own ISSN-registered academic journal, reaching hundreds of people on our various social media channels and newsletter, establishing sponsorships and finding funding opportunities, and developing STEAR’s first Annual Conference in November.

Working on these projects under the strange circumstances of the past year has been both rewarding and challenging – there was no real blueprint for neither portfolio directors nor team members to go off of, and COVID-19 continued to not only affect world politics and the lives of many, but also cast a veil of uncertainty over the future of our own work and that of others. The Conference team worked on an event of a scope that was unlike any of our previous events, and the Communications Directors established a social media presence completely from scratch in an era of fragmented attention and oversaturated platforms. Our official launch in April with the honorable ambassadors Nicolas Chapuis and Toru Morikawa made way for multiple fascinating panels on topics ranging from migration to nuclear disarmament; we welcomed diplomats, executives, and professors, and established collaborative ties with organizations like the European Student Think Tank, European Guanxi, Polis180, The Wilberforce Society, and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, who generously sponsored our Conference just last month.

And yet I have not once heard a complaint about Zoom links, Doodle polls, or Google docs – only ambition and encouragement. Writers and editors dove into new topics with enthusiasm, and the Secretariat, Presidents Dao Nguyen and Luke Cavanaugh, and our esteemed Advisory Board managed every portfolio’s work with care and attention to detail. In an era of polarization and uncertainty, their commitment to establishing this organization with sustainable systems in place for the future is all the more admirable.

That is not to say that the current team’s work is done just yet, as we have many exciting things planned for the rest of our term, including some of our flagship events that are to come. We will continue to build on our initial plans, to reach out to more people across Europe and Asia, and to provide a platform for youth across the continents to meet each other and get inspired to engage with topics that matter to them. But none of that would be possible without an audience, and your support – whether you attended an event, read an article, or liked a post – has made all of this possible in the past eleven months.

I’d like to end this rather sentimental recap of the past year with a potentially even more sentimental personal acknowledgement. Thank you to all of you who have written articles for us, whether you are part of STEAR’s Editorial Office or if you submitted work as an external author – this pillar of STEAR would be nowhere without you. Thank you to the editors and other staff, notably our wonderful Communications department, whose efforts have been so invaluable to streamlining our content. And finally, thank you to our readers for your support, interest, and belief in our mission! On behalf of the Editorial Office, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year ahead.

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