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Highlights from TFAS International Programs in Prague: Celebrating 30 Years of Global Impact

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Celebrating 30 years of academic programs abroad, The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) returned to the Czech Republic for its summer programs: the three-week-long TFAS Prague program and the week-long European Journalism Institute (EJI).

TFAS Prague and EJI brought together a combined 88 enthusiastic young leaders from 30 different countries. Participants in TFAS International Programs not only earn college credit but also gain an extended network of worldwide contacts and international experience to advance their educational and professional pursuits.

TFAS faculty, alumni and staff celebrates 30 years of TFAS International Programs at a special reception on July 18.

The first ever TFAS International Program took place 30 years ago in Prague in July 1993. To commemorate this momentous milestone, the TFAS Prague and EJI 2023 classes celebrated with TFAS faculty, staff and local alumni during a special address and reception on July 18 held at the Czech Chamber of Deputies. TFAS alumnus and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick ‘78 delivered a compelling case for why the rule of law is essential to free societies, with inspiring personal anecdotes and Czech history creatively interspersed through his remarks and the Q&A with participants. The celebration was complete with a birthday cake and a toast to the next 30 years of TFAS international programs.

TFAS Prague

Students learn about Prague’s history while sightseeing.

TFAS Prague 2023 took place from July 8-29. Over a span of three impactful weeks, TFAS Prague played host to a diverse group of 65 students hailing from over 25 countries. Together, they embarked on an exploration of the fundamental pillars of political philosophy, political economy, and conflict resolution. Students studied and earned course credit at Charles University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities.

Due to the generosity of TFAS supporters, David Wang ’23, a student from Singapore, was able to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime educational experience.

“TFAS Prague was eye-opening, fulfilling, and thought-provoking,” Wang said. “These short three weeks have left me with much to ponder over, and I have made many friends globally that I hope to keep in contact with.”

TFAS Prague participants listen during a lecture at Charles University.

This year’s esteemed faculty included Dr. Ibrahim Al-Marashi ’01, an associate professor of Middle East history at California State University San Marcos; Dr. Adam Martin, a political economy research fellow at the Free Market Institute and an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at Texas Tech University; and Dr. Nikolai Wenzel, a professor of economics at Universidad de las Hesperides.

Through an interactive guest speaker series, students learned from outstanding alumni and other leaders who provided insight, expertise, and encouragement to the class of TFAS Prague 2023.

Jakub Kulhánek ‘07 speaks to students at the graduation ceremony.

This year’s speakers included:

  • Clint Bolick ’78, associate justice of the Arizona Supreme Court
  • Marek Havrda ’94, deputy minister for European affairs for the Czech Republic
  • Jan Hornat, senior researcher at the Peace Research Center Prague and head of the Department of North American Studies at the Institute of International Studies at Charles University
  • Jakub Kulhánek ‘07, permanent representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations
  • Barbora Maronkova, public diplomacy officer at Global Partners, NATO Public Diplomacy Division
  • Sashko Shevchenko, media producer and former correspondent for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service
  • Vladimir Vano ’99, chief economist at GLOBSEC
Students participate in the cultural presentations.

Students from countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Bolivia, Greece, and North Macedonia, engaged in discussions with classmates, faculty members, and guest lecturers throughout the program to gain a better understanding of one another. This element of cultural exchange that takes place throughout TFAS International programs comes to a head during one of the most special events of the program: Cultural Presentations. This annual tradition at TFAS International allows students from the same country or region to share their culture with their peers through traditional song, dance, dress, history and cuisine.

Students also participated in the annual conflict management simulation, a Model UN-style diplomacy exercise hosted at the Czech Senate. This activity encourages students to apply the ideas they learn in lectures to a real-world policy problem facing the global community. It was a great honor to have Czech Senator and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security, Pavel Fischer, give opening remarks at the simulation, which focused on Feeding the World: Grain, Ukraine and the Black Sea Region.

TFAS Prague students learn the traditional dance of the Czech Republic, Polka.

Outside of the TFAS classroom, students explored the historic city of Prague. TFAS organized a walking tour, site excursions at the grounds of Prague Castle, the statue of St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge, as well as visits to the Prague Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square and historic Wenceslas Square.

Alexandros Chasapoglou ’23, a student from Greece, said TFAS Prague allowed him to engage in deep philosophical discussions.

“It was at TFAS Prague that I had some of the deepest philosophical conversations of my life,” said Chasapoglou. “I met professors with whom I will be writing and publishing papers in the near future.”

European Journalism Institute (EJI)

EJI students explore the city of Prague.

In collaboration with The Media Project, TFAS co-hosted the European Journalism Institute (EJI) on July 15–23, 2023. Throughout the program, 24 journalists from 13 countries gained hands-on experience by engaging with industry professionals while learning more about ethics and religion in public life, exploring fundamental issues in journalism and developing their reporting abilities at Anglo-American University.

EJI participants gained knowledge from the program’s renowned instructors and faculty members, who represent a variety of backgrounds.

This year’s EJI faculty included Ms. Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova ’97, ’98, reporter at AFP; Sean Gallup, chief news photographer for Central Europe at Getty Images; Paul Glader ’99, ’00, senior editor at CNN; Dr. Paul Marshall II, research professor in the Department of Political Science at Baylor University; Daniel Raus, former editor-in-chief of Czech Radio Plus; and David Rocks, senior editor for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

Journalists take photos while exploring Prague’s famous landmarks.

Throughout the week-long program, students also learned about the rich political and religious history of the Czech Republic’s capital by visiting the city’s most well-known landmarks such as Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Salima Almazbekova ’23, a student from Kyrgyzstan, expressed the value of David Rock’s lectures as beneficial to her since she learned more about drafting feature articles, which will help her enhance her writing.

“David Rocks’ lectures were really beneficial to me because he taught us everything we needed to know about featured articles,” said Almazbekova. “As a journalist, I write feature articles, so it was an excellent way to learn how to improve my writing.”

Andrew Hamm, international programs associate for TFAS, witnessed the impact of the European Journalism Institute (EJI) firsthand.

Participants discuss ideas during class at Anglo-American University.

“Spending time with the EJI participants this year, I got to appreciate how unique this program is,” said Hamm. “The EJI class sessions were filled with lively discussions, moving anecdotes, and sharp yet gracious challenges from one participant to another as they strived to better understand what it means to practice ethical and fact-based journalism. As the students incorporated their classroom trainings—from religion reporting to photojournalism to fact-checking—it was clear to me how passionate they were to tell the stories that the world needs to hear and to do so with excellence.”

To learn more about TFAS International Programs and application deadlines for upcoming programs, please visit TFASinternational.org.

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