Brothers learn about freedom at TFAS Capital Semester.
Andreja (IIPES 05, CSF 06, LSI 07) and Borko Komnenovic (IIPES 05, CSF 06) know firsthand the price of freedom. While hiding in a shelter in 1999, the Serbian twins witnessed the bombing of their neighborhood by NATO forces opposed to the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
Having grown up in a family that enjoyed Mark Twain, jazz, the NBA and other aspects of American culture, Andreja and Borko felt torn – a country they admired was participating in the destruction of their hometown. However, as active members of various student groups against Milosevic’s rule, the twins knew that ultimately, the cause was just.
“Luckily, our disappointment was only temporary, because we understood the historic moment and we knew that justice must prevail,” they said in an interview.
Borko and Andreja’s involvement with The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) only strengthened their belief in freedom and free markets. After seeing an ad at their university for the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies (IIPES) in Crete, Greece, they applied and attended the program in the summer of 2005. Borko and Andreja then applied and were accepted to our Capital Semester program in Washington. They completed that program on December 15th of this year.
“After the Crete program and the amazing experience we had there, it was easy to decide that we wanted to repeat something similar, but yet in a different way, in a place where the most important decisions of today are made and in the capital of the free world,” they said.
This fall, the twins attended TFAS classes at Georgetown University professors and site briefings at the White House and Congress. They also worked at internships during the day; Andreja at the Cato Institute and Borko with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
“Our internships provided us with a unique experience that will help us in our future business or public careers,” they said.
The coursework has helped both Andreja and Borko gain a greater understanding of free markets, democracy and the impact of current events, namely the midterm elections. Attending an election night event at TFAS headquarters and discussing the potential impact of election results in the classroom has helped to solidify their principles and beliefs.
“We have witnessed for the first time since 1994 a change of majority in the legislative branch after this year’s elections. Even though our sympathies were kind of different, it proved to us that the system of democracy really works and that a more than two century-long democratic tradition is something worthy of admiration,” they said.
Andreja and Borko feel that the work TFAS does is important in promoting freedom.
“TFAS invests in people, which is the most important investment in today’s world,” they said. “Doing that and teaching about eternal values, TFAS makes the difference in this world of cruelty. TFAS respects the differences [between people] and wakes up the ‘American’ in every single individual. Attending TFAS programs made us even stronger believers in the free world.”