Marymount students travel to Luxembourg for Transatlantic Dialogue Conference

Marymount students travel to Luxembourg for Transatlantic Dialogue Conference

Six Marymount University students and two faculty advisors traveled to Luxembourg earlier this month to participate in the 2024 Transatlantic Dialogue Conference and discuss the theme of ‘Soft Power in Uncertain Times.’

This was the first time Marymount was invited to participate in the conference, joining students and lecturers from U.S. and European institutions such as Belmont University, Emory University, Florida State University, University of Leuven (Belgium) and University of Sassari (Italy). 

“This experience is especially thrilling for students as it provides a chance to engage with diverse cultures, gain firsthand insights into global challenges and hone essential cross-cultural communication skills,” said Dr. Witold Wolny, Director of Marymount’s Global Education Office.

The trip was funded by the Hispanic Student Success Initiative grant, which the U.S. Department of Education awarded to Hispanic-Serving Institutions to support the academic development of Hispanic students. After a competitive application process, students were selected based on their essays, leadership roles, GPAs and consideration of any barriers that had previously prevented them from traveling abroad.

Marymount students travel to Luxembourg for Transatlantic Dialogue Conference
Isabella Rivera (second from left) participates in a student panel at the conference

Marymount’s six student participants were chosen from various disciplines and grade levels:

  • Sara Argueta-Valle (Nursing ’25)
  • Deangelo Inche Velarde (Business Administration ’27)
  • Jennifer Loayes (Elementary Education ’25)
  • Michelle Olivar (Interior Architecture and Design ’27)
  • Isabella Rivera (Criminal Justice ’27)
  • Jocelyn Turcio (Communication ’27)

For most, it was their first time going abroad and experiencing European culture.

“I’d always dreamed about seeing Europe, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go to Luxembourg or participate in something like this,” Turcio explained. “Going abroad and actually experiencing another culture firsthand completely changed my perspective and made me want to go everywhere in the world and see all of the amazing things that other countries have to offer!”

At the conference, held from May 29 to June 1 at the University of Luxembourg in Esch-sur-Alzette, students joined professors, researchers, artists, diplomats and peers from U.S. and European universities to discuss soft power.

This included a presentation by Dr. Wolny and Belmont University professors on the topic of ‘Harmony Across Borders: Music as a Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy Tool,’ in which they examined how music can be a powerful tool for cultural diplomacy as it “bridges cultures, strengthens international ties and fosters cross-cultural understanding.”

“To me, soft power is really about how you influence the world around you,” said Rivera, who shared her thoughts on the topic as a panelist during the TAD Talk Show. “Maybe we see an Instagram post that makes us want to buy a particular item or go to a particular place. We are subtly being influenced by the world every day and each of us has the power to subtly influence our corner of the world. It’s up to us to decide how we will use that power.”

“I really enjoyed the conference and found it to be mind-blowing, beyond anything I could’ve imagined,” Turcio added. “It was such a special experience with amazing people speaking about interesting topics involving soft power, and I’m forever grateful to Marymount for giving me the opportunity to participate at the conference.”

Dr. Wolny hopes this won’t be Marymount’s last participation in the Transatlantic Dialogue Conference. In fact, with an invitation from Ambassador Karl-Erik Norrman to join the European Cultural Parliament, he is seeking to bring the 2027 TAD Conference to the U.S. for the first time and have it hosted at Marymount.

Find out more about global opportunities offered through Marymount Global.