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To kick off the year with the International Affairs scholars program, I attended the Current Events Conversation on Sunday, August 26th from 5:00-6:00 PM in the Glass Classroom in Smith-Steeb. This event fulfilled the academic requirement.
This activity impacted me by opening my eyes from the beginning of the year to issues going on the world. Coming into the program I realized I wasn’t keeping up with current events as much as I should have been and I was dedicated to learning more about the world. This event relates to the topic of International Affairs because it involves a different country and the impact on not only the United States but countless other countries. For Venezuela to recover from this situation, the assistance of other countries is all but necessary.
On the surface level, I gained academic knowledge about the Venezuelan economic crisis. The country has long relied on oil and spent too much while the price of oil was high leaving nothing for when the price fell. There has been little if any improvement in the industry resulting in destruction for the nation. I also gained some professional experience by discussing current events and providing my opinion. I generally find myself listening to and observing others instead of participating and I believe I spoke up more than usual. I found this conversation very beneficial in getting to know my starting place and well as where everyone else in the group was.
Personally, I found it interesting how many bills were required to purchase seemingly everyday items. Stacks of millions of bolivars could be translated to a few US dollars. It is mind-blowing that people have to carry so much cash to buy chicken, tomatoes, toilet paper, carrots, soap, and diapers. I was fascinated that eggs had started to become a form of currency as people reverted to bartering. This concept of repeating history and reverting to old methods is baffling but so common. I have always been taught that the purpose of history is to learn from mistakes and adapt to improve the future. This situation in Venezuela makes me question why we are not taking actions to better the world.
This event relates to the topic of economics that I have previously learned about. After defaulting on countless debts, Venezuela couldn’t borrow more international money. This created a difficult situation not handled in the best way. Simply printing more money will only cause a higher inflation rate. President Maduro tried to create a solution to this problem by introducing a new “Sovereign Bolivar” with five fewer zeroes. However, it is not so simply corrected.
After attending this event, I would question what Venezuela should do next. They are currently in turmoil with desperate attempts to fix problems with no avail. Varying sources estimate about one million percent inflation by the end of the year. Waves of people are attempting to flee the country as conditions only worsen. I believe the currency should be anchored to something with more backing. Other countries probably need to intervene and try to assist before Venezuela is completely done for. Overall, this was a positive first experience and I cannot wait to learn more about the world I am living in.