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Students Become Courageous Leaders During TFAS International Programs

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The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) 2022 Summer International Programs gathered 133 passionate young leaders from around the world. TFAS continues to create a lifelong impact on every participant as each program allows students to live, learn and connect with individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. TFAS International programs serve as premier education and leadership training programs for courageous leaders who want to make a difference in their communities and the world. The three programs held in Europe and Central America provided students the opportunity to earn college credit and participate in several guest lectures, site visits and excursions while also learning about each other’s countries and cultures.

European Journalism Institute (EJI)

The week-long professional program returned to Prague, Czech Republic for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. In partnership with The Media Project (TMP) and Anglo-American University, this year’s European Journalism Institute (EJI) consisted of 24 gifted young journalists from 14 countries. Throughout the program journalists had the opportunity to gain 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.

Journalist connects with TFAS alumna Lady Mortkowitz, who spoke about fact checking.

During the first few days of the program  journalists visited notable historic and religious landmarks in Prague including The Church of Our Lady Victorious, Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. These visits served as the grounding for assignments that incorporated interviews of the public, observations made around places of worship and photography of their subjects.

Anglo-American University, located in the newly restored Thurn-Taxis Palace beneath the iconic Prague Castle, served as an inspiring backdrop for lectures and workshops where our journalists learned about conflict and religion reporting, journalism ethics, how to create strong leads and photojournalism. Journalists benefited from the program’s prominent instructors and faculty members who come from a variety of backgrounds by learning from their varied experiences.

EJI 2022 journalists explore the city of Prague.

This year’s faculty included Ibrahim Al-Marashi ’01, an associate professor of Middle East history at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM); Sean Gallup, chief news photographer in Germany for Getty Images; Paul Glader ’99, ’00, executive director of The Media Project and professor at The King’s College in New York City; Paul Marshall, the Wilson distinguished professor of religious freedom at Baylor University; Daniel Raus, a former editor-in-chief of Czech Radio Plus and Czech Radio 6; and David Rocks, senior editor for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg BusinessWeek in Berlin.

Originally from Ukraine where her family still resides, Anastasiia Morozova ’22 is a young investigative reporter in Poland who had the opportunity to develop her journalism skills further.

“This program helped me a lot to discover new points of view, new sides to understanding this world and it also helps me a lot to develop my own opinion about what’s happening here,” Anastasiia said.

Graciela Ibáñez ’22 is a reporter from Santiago, Chile, who learned the value of covering the religious aspect of journalism and will work harder to implement this into her writing.

Journalists during class at Anglo-American University.

“The covering religion topic was fascinating, it’s true what they said here – sometimes religion goes unnoticed and it’s an important factor in news and we don’t dig into it,” Graciela said. “I feel like I’m going to come back with this new perspective about looking at religion and religion factors in stories that I do.”  

On July 16, journalists celebrated the completion of the program with a closing ceremony and dinner. Daniel Raus, former editor-in-chief of Czech Radio Plus was honored during the ceremony with the 2022 EJI Freedom of the Press Award. The award recognizes exceptional journalists who report with accuracy and integrity while understanding that journalism is the most effective defense of democracy.

TFAS Prague

Prague 2022 students from the United Kingdom, Slovakia, the United States and Armenia gather prior to graduation ceremony.

Over the course of three weeks, 75 driven leaders from 36 countries participated in TFAS Prague where they studied political philosophy, political economy and conflict management.

Students quickly connected as they shared their cultures with one another, bonded over Czech traditions at the Folklore Garden and engaged in a conflict management simulation to negotiate a real-life scenario as diplomats at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

In addition to exploring all that Prague has to offer, participants took classes at Charles University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prominent universities.

This year’s esteemed faculty included returning professors Dr. Adam Martin, political economy research fellow at the Free Market Institute and associate professor of applied economics at Texas Tech University; Dr. Joshua Mitchell, professor of political theory at Georgetown University andDr. Ibrahim Al-Marashi ’01 associate professor of history at California State University San Marcos.

Adam Lehodey ’22 from Columbia University cherished his time at TFAS, reflecting that he was inspired to learn more about political philosophy.

Students attend lecture at Charles University.

“From the very first day, when we were immersed in Dr. Mitchell’s class on political philosophy, I left class with a renewed sense of wonder,” Adam said. “I wanted to learn more, debate with my peers and explore the deep philosophical debates we had further through literature.”

Experienced practitioners also shared insight, expertise and encouragement with the class over the course of the program. These leaders offered their perspective on current events, lead policy workshops, discussed economies in transition and highlighted the value of relationships in cross-cultural understanding.

These speakers included: 

  • Jakub Kulhanek ’07, permanent representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations welcomed students to the program via video from UN headquarters and exhorted them to work towards cross-cultural understanding and international cooperation.
  • Krzysztof Szczerski ’96, permanent representative of Poland to the UN and Joanna Skoczek ’98, deputy permanent representative of Poland to the UN encouraged students via video from UN headquarters to consider the lasting impact TFAS will have on their trajectories.
  • Barbora Maronkova, communications advisor on NATO’s Strategic Concept at the Policy Planning Unit of the Office of Secretary General lead a workshop on NATO’s outlook for the next 10 years.     
  • Sashko Shevchenkocorrespondent in Kyiv for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and previously worked for Hromadske.ua and Detector Media addressed students on the challenges of reporting on war.  
  • Vladimir Vano ’99, senior state counselor to the State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic discussed the collapse of centrally planned economic systems and associated challenges of reforms.

Enkhjin Ulambayar ’22 from the National University of Mongolia shared how the program impacted her both professionally and personally.

“Through this program, I’ve met many bright minds from all around the world and made beautiful memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Enkhjin said.

Prague 2022 students exploring the city.

“Classroom discussions on global issues, stimulating conversations with friends on our way to lunch, museum visits that broadened my view and perspective, random strolls through the street of the most beautiful city, heart-warming birthday celebration in Vienna with new friends, the list goes on and on.”

TFAS hosted social and educational cultural activities to enhance students’ connection to an understanding of their peers and the complex geopolitical environments. At the annual cultural presentations, students from different areas of the world shared their traditions and cultural perspectives to one another. TFAS Prague participants from countries including Argentina, Egypt, Ukraine, Pakistan, Canada, Bulgaria and more gathered to highlight their cultures with song and dance, history and cuisine.  

Each summer TFAS Prague hosts a Model UN-style diplomacy exercise as part of the conflict management module that encourages students to applythe ideas they study in lectures to a real-life policy scenario facing the global community.

This year the simulation focused on a mock Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting on decisions to release grain and agriculture products from Ukraine. Students were divided into groups representing various countries and shared impassioned and creative arguments to find peaceable solutions to issues surrounding the agriculture economy within Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Students learning about the history of Prague while sightseeing.

Andrew Hamm, international programs associate for TFAS witnessed the impact of TFAS Prague firsthand.

“Getting to interact with students outside of class is one of the best parts about my job,” Andrew said. “‘What fascinated you about the lecture this morning?’ is a question I sometimes asked students over lunch. I could see their faces light up as they connected ideas discussed in class to what’s going on in their home countries and their own aspirations for public service. There’s nothing like seeing in real-time the impact TFAS has on our students.”

TFAS celebrated the accomplishments of students on July 29 with a ceremony at the 14th-century Carolinum at Charles University. Honored guests Eliska Hasek Coolidge, the Czech Republic’s First Lady of Etiquette and Marek Havrda ’94, the Czech Republic’s Deputy Minister for European Affairs spoke at the ceremony. In addition to inspiring the students to consider how they will change the world, Havrda closed the program by sharing the goals of the Czech Republic for the presidency of the Council of the European Union.  

TFAS Guatemala

Students gather after cultural presentations.

At TFAS Guatemala 34 aspiring leaders from 12 different countries spent two weeks delving into the philosophical, political and practical challenges of migration crises. The program was hosted in partnership with Universidad Francisco Marroquín (UFM), one of Latin America’s top private universities in advancing the ethical, legal and economic foundations of a society of free and responsible individuals. The first week of the program was spent in Guatemala City on UFM’s main campus and the second was spent in the historic town of Antigua at the beautifully restored colonial mansion, Casa Poponoe.

Dr. Nikolai Wenzel, an economics professor at  Fayetteville State University led students in a philosophical examination of political economy. Theodore Wold, a constitutional attorney, lectured on politics and the law.

Sessions on economic and political issues in Central American were presented by UFM faculty:

  • Fernando Monterroso professor of economics at Francisco Marroquín University. 
  • Will Ogilvieglobal affairs coordinator at the Institute of Political Studies and international relations for Universidad Francisco Marroquín. 
  • Carroll Ríos de Rodriguezfounding president of Instituto Fe Y Libertad (Faith and Liberty Institute). 
  • Pedro Pablo Velásquez, professor of economics, geography, history and ethics and coordinator for the entrepreneurship program at  Universidad de las Hespérides. 
Students celebrate the completion of the 2022 Guatemala program.

Through cultural presentations students created connections with one another while developing a greater appreciation of these diverse cultures.

Felipe Ferro ’22 is an alumnus of the University of Brazil and is currently working as a legal advisor and chief of staff at the Ministry of Economy of Brazil. He shared how TFAS strengthened his connection to his Latin American neighbors.

“TFAS was the first time I really had close contact with the reality of my neighbors in Latin America: some of my friends in the program were suffering from the effects of arbitrary political power, and one even had to leave her own country for safety,” Felipe said.

“The time I spent with these people was crucial for me to understand part of what Prof. Wenzel taught us: a society of free, responsible individuals is our best option for a prosperous community.”

Outside of the classroom the learning and exploration continued as they toured historical and cultural sites like the magnificent Presidential Palace (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura), the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago de Guatemala), Mercado Central and even hiked the Pacaya Volcano.

TFAS 2022 Guatemala students sightseeing around the city.

James Landy ’22 is a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy where he studies political science and Latin America. He shared how attending TFAS will help him in his career.

“This opportunity was extraordinarily valuable to me as a future officer, as I hope to serve in the SOUTHCOM region,” James said. “Living with 30 Latin Americans for two weeks expanded my understanding of the region tenfold, and I am sure that I will be calling on these experiences for the duration of my career.”

On July 29, students celebrated their time living and learning with one another while in Guatemala.


Congratulations to our graduates! The TFAS Alumni Engagement team is proud to welcome the European Journalism Institute, TFAS Prague and TFAS Guatemala Classes of 2022 to the alumni family!

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

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