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Embracing the Principles of a Free Society: Highlights from TFAS Santiago 2024


In January, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) returned to Santiago, Chile, to host TFAS Santiago 2024, a two-week program in partnership with the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES). A total of 57 students from 13 countries gathered to study the principles of free societies and free markets in Latin America while exploring sites around the city and the neighboring port city of Valparaíso, including the Presidential Palace and Congress.

In the classroom

Constanza Briceno ’24 participates in a class discussion.

TFAS Santiago 2024 revolved around daily class sessions conducted on the university campus.

Faculty members from both UANDES and TFAS interacted with students through a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, panel discussions, class activities and educational excursions. The coursework covered the political theory of constitutional government and Latin American economic and political development.

Nehimer Martinez ’24 is a student from Venezuela who shared that TFAS Santiago 2024 not only provided academic exploration but also created the establishment of connections with leaders from diverse countries.

“TFAS Santiago 2024 offered more than an academic exploration; it became a platform for forging deep connections with leaders from Latin America, the United States, and Greece,” Martinez said. “The rich tapestry of perspectives and shared aspirations created a profound sense of fellowship. This unique bond, transcending geographical boundaries, has left an indelible mark on my experience, emphasizing the global impact of our collective journey towards understanding and positive change.”

Dr. Wenzel’s lecture at the Chilean Think Tank, Libertad y Desarrollo (Freedom and Development).

This year’s distinguished TFAS and UANDES faculty included:

  • Juan Ignacio Brito, professor of communication
  • Francisca Greene, academic director and research professor of communication
  • Vincente Hargous, professor of politics
  • Alvaro Iriarte, professor of economics
  • Roberto Munita, professor of political communication
  • Francisco Tagle, professor of communication
  • Monica Zalaquett, Chilean businesswoman and former minister of women and gender equity
  • Nikolai Wenzel, professor of economics at the Universidad de las Hesperides and TFAS professor of political economy
Students gather for a memorable photo after visiting La Sebastiana museum in Valparaiso.

Exploring Free Markets and Free Societies

During TFAS Santiago 2024, students participated in sessions led by Nikolai Wenzel, who taught students about the political economy of liberty. Some of his sessions included “Robust Political Economy: The Knowledge Problem & the Incentive Problem,” “Philosophical Foundations: The Purpose of Government,” “The Limits of a Liberal Society’s Response to Illiberal Threats,” and “Economic Crisis as Political Crisis.”

Júnio Paschoal ’24, a student from Brazil, said the program enhanced his academic knowledge and enriched his life in unexpected ways.

“The challenging and thought-provoking curriculum, spread over two intense weeks, provided me with a deep understanding of the principles governing constitutional government and the dynamics of a market economy,” Paschoal said. “This knowledge not only broadened my intellectual horizons but also reinforced my belief in the values of individual freedom, human achievement, and personal responsibility.”

Students also had the privilege of hearing from José Piñera, the former Secretary of Labor and Social Security for Chile, who is known as a key player in reforming Chile’s pension system. Piñera delivered a captivating guest lecture titled “How We Defeated Poverty with Liberty in Chile,” offering insight on Chile’s remarkable journey towards prosperity through liberty.

TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 joins other TFAS staff members for the TFAS Santiago 2024 program, delivering his remarks at the Alumni Reception Dinner.

He discussed the explosive economic growth driven by free-market reforms implemented in the 1970s and 1980s and the lessons we can learn from it now. Other topics of discussion included the current state of Chile’s economy and politics, as well as those of other countries in Latin America. Following his discussion, TFAS President Roger Ream ’76, who was visiting the program for the first time since 2018, facilitated a Q&A session with Piñera. Roger began by asking his own questions before opening the floor to students. Their insightful questions revolved around the application of democratic and free-market reforms to their respective countries, prompting Piñera to share more stories about his career in politics.

Cultural Connections

Outside of the classroom, students enjoyed exploring the cultural, natural and gastronomical attractions around Santiago. TFAS organized activities such as walking tours and visits to historic landmarks like San Cristóbal Hill and the Presidential Palace, as well as a trip to the coastal city of Valparaiso. These activities not only offered insight into Chilean culture, history and politics but also provided an opportunity for students to foster new friendships and create cherished memories.

Chilean participants pose for a photo amidst the cultural presentations of TFAS Santiago 2024.

As part of the program, students engaged in social and cultural events, including the “Chilean Lunch” and “Cultural Presentations.” Cultural presentations, a TFAS International tradition, allow students to share their cultural heritage through songs, dances, attire, history and cuisine, creating an immersive and enjoyable experience.

Gabriel Reyes ’24, a student from Puerto Rico, U.S., described cultural presentations as one of the highlights of TFAS Santiago 2024.

“Cultural presentations were one of the highlights of the program,” Reyes said. “The opportunity to get to know new cultures and traditions was something I will value forever.”

Alumni Advice

During the program, students also participated in the annual Alumni Dinner, co-hosted by TFAS and Universidad de los Andes, bringing together TFAS alumni, current TFAS Santiago students and faculty.

The evening started with a warm welcome from UANDES Director Rosario Díaz. She emphasized the strong partnership between TFAS and UANDES and praised the students’ drive and intellectual curiosity. Roger Ream expressed gratitude to UANDES for a shared commitment to developing young leaders and urged the 57 current students to build upon the legacy of other alumni in advancing a more free and prosperous society.

Students gather one last time for a group photo before the TFAS Santiago 2024 closing ceremony.

The dinner brought participants together, allowing them to reconnect with old friends and form new connections. A new roundtable dinner format allowed alumni to introduce themselves to the entire room, sparking smaller, more in-depth conversations with current students.

TFAS Director of International Programs Alexander Archuleta expressed his enthusiasm for gaining insights into the endeavors of TFAS alumni and for observing current students connecting with them.

“It was very special to hear more about what our alumni are doing and to see our students connecting with them and asking questions about their career journeys and aspirations,” Archuleta said. “It’s definitely a highlight of the program in Santiago.”

Catalina Ramos ’19 attended the European Journalism Institute in 2019. She currently serves as a news reporter in Santiago, Chile. TFAS International produced a brief video during the Alumni Reception at TFAS Santiago 2024, featuring her discussing her program experience and encouraging young journalists to consider applying to TFAS programs. You can watch the video below or on the @TFASintl Instagram profile.


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A post shared by TFAS International (@tfasintl)

The two-week program concluded with a closing ceremony on the final day, where students received their certificates and reminisced about all they had accomplished and learned over the two weeks.

View highlights from the program on the reel below or on the @TFASorg Instagram profile.


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