Good morning. I suppose it is a bit ironic that the student who was voted, probably unanimously, by his peers as the most consistently “late to class” is giving this speech, but I am greatly honored and humbled to be speaking to such a wonderful and motivated group of students. Many college students who choose to do a study abroad usually look for the most exotic, best weathered, and party-friendly places to spend their time. While Washington, D.C. has its advantages, I think few of us would call it exotic. What makes this program unique is the type of driven, smart and ambitious individuals it attracts. It takes a certain type of person to choose to participate in this program, and my time here through the Fund for American Studies has really shown me that. I was constantly impressed at the level of engagement from my peers and their intellectual curiosity at the world around them.
As an Iranian-American I could always count on having interesting discussions with my classmates on politics and the Middle East. I never felt out of place and even felt a renewed sense of patriotism for this country, whose citizens welcome and accept people of all religions, ethnicities and beliefs.
I have little doubt that the group of students who are graduating from the program will soon be crucial leaders in American society, and I am proud to have spent a semester with them.
During my semester here, I was forced to think hard about the issues which affect our society and found myself constantly challenging prior assumptions I had. I found myself often thinking about the Constitution and the rule of law from Professor John Samples’ course, and found myself critically questioning how government works through the lens of political economy, which Professor Brian Blase’s public policy course helped me achieve. Finally, I gained a wealth of information from Professor Richard Benedetto’s journalism class. As an aspiring future journalist, the insights I gained from Professor Benedetto’s long career and the guest speakers he invited will be priceless as I decide upon my future.
The Capital Semester program made sure to challenge us during our time here with 30-hour workweeks and a full academic workload. This challenging atmosphere gave us a taste for what life beyond graduation may bring, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we found out what “having no time” truly means.
Yet, despite the challenges, I found myself enjoying delving into class readings on Georgetown’s campus or at Dupont circle, just feet away from furious games of chess being played. I also got to witness John Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity at the national mall among people who had travelled all across the country to partake in the event.
Being situated in D.C. gave us a front seat view of how government functions and gave all of us stories to brag about when we go back home of the people we saw and the places we went. I will demonstrate:
Through my internship, I attended Foreign Policy magazine’s Global Thinkers event at the Corcoran gallery, situated next to the White House, where I witnessed a panel discussion between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davatoglu, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairmen John Kerry. I spoke with Oxford scholar Tariq Ramadan and got to meet Stephen Walt of Harvard University.
In closing, I would just like to say that the time I spent in Washington will undoubtedly affect my future and the choices I will soon have to make regarding life beyond graduation. For that I will always be indebted to TFAS, my peers and professors. I am proud to have spent my time here, and I wish all of my classmates wonderful success and happiness in the future. Thank you.