The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is dedicated to providing transformative programs worldwide for young leaders committed to the values of a free and democratic society. Russia’s invasion continues to threaten Ukraine’s freedom, but those facing a war stand up and fight for the right to live freely. They serve as a reminder to the world that the desire for liberty remains strong and that education is required to strengthen that desire.
TFAS Supporters Respond
Thanks to generous supporters of the Ukraine Student Scholarship Fund, TFAS raised scholarship support for seven Ukrainian students to attend TFAS programs in 2022. Five students attended TFAS Prague, one attended the European Journalism Institute (EJI) and one student participated in the TFAS D.C. Academic Internship Program in Washington, D.C. Through these programs, young leaders from Ukraine learned the principles of courageous leadership, the importance of economic freedom, and how to report on religion in an ethical manner, alongside TFAS students from around the globe.
The scholarship was established because TFAS recognized Ukrainian students’ desire to learn about political and economic freedom, free markets and the rule of law in the midst of the conflict taking place. TFAS supporters wanted to ensure that no financial barrier hindered them from attending TFAS programs and developing into the leaders needed to face the challenges ahead.
Desire to Learn Liberty
Diana Diasamidze ’22 is one young woman whose family was affected by the war in Ukraine. She expressed her appreciation to TFAS supporters for allowing her to participate in TFAS Prague.
“My family and I are blessed because our house was not destroyed by shelling,” she said. “We are blessed to be alive. Thank you for supporting me in this difficult time. My TFAS experience was indeed the highlight of the last five months of my life.”
The three-week TFAS Prague program was composed of three educational modules which focused on political philosophy, political economy and conflict management. The curriculum also incorporated activities and guest lectures about the invasion in Ukraine.
Every year at TFAS Prague, students participate in a conflict management simulation to negotiate a real-life scenario taught by Professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi ’01. Last year the event simulated a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on decisions to release grain and agricultural products from Ukraine. Students were divided into groups representing various countries, and they shared passionate and creative arguments to find peaceful solutions to issues surrounding the agriculture economy within Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Anna Tsuvina ’22 was another Ukrainian student who was accepted into TFAS Prague. Anna shared her reasons for participating in TFAS Prague, as well as the importance of educational processes that she learned throughout the program.
“It is not possible for me to stop the war in my country, but it is possible for me to become an active citizen who is able to help in reconstructing the democratic institutions in the post-war period,” Tsuvina said. “I should be strong to contribute to the development of democratic initiatives in Ukraine after the war.”
She continued, “The courses with American professors also showed me how the educational process is organized in the USA. I hope to have a chance to implement in Ukraine all the modern practices I learned of during the program.”
Here in the U.S., one young woman, Arina Georgiievska ’22, participated in TFAS’s D.C. Academic Internship Program. She studied alongside nearly 300 young leaders from around the world and gained valuable experience.
In addition to classes, internships and guest lectures, Washington students also discussed the impact of the war in various settings, including a diplomatic simulation, discussions in the international relations classroom and small group discussions with industry experts.
TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 expressed gratitude on behalf of the organization for the selfless support and generosity of alumni and supporters who took the opportunity to assist the next generation of leaders.
“The overwhelming outpouring of support is a testament to TFAS’s alumni and donor community,” Ream said. “TFAS is grateful for each and every person who came forward to help us fund the scholarships for these courageous students.”
The Need Continues
In 2023, TFAS International received more than 20 applications from Ukrainian students interested in pursuing a TFAS education in Prague, showing the need and desire for TFAS programs among this generation of leaders. These student applicants exemplified strong, serious leaders who are clearly on a path to help their country. They represent students who want to build up stable democratic institutions and contribute to the end of the war in their country. TFAS accepted nine students to attend TFAS Prague with a full scholarship.
In addition, two students were accepted into TFAS’s D.C. Academic Internship Programs on a full scholarship. These two young leaders moved to the United States and enrolled in universities to further their educations when the war broke out. One of the students is from West Virginia University, and the other attends University of Wyoming.
Thanks to the generous donations from TFAS supporters, students worldwide can have invaluable transformative experiences. These programs instill shared beliefs in the importance of economic and political liberty while students make lifelong personal and professional connections.
Recent history demonstrates that the efforts of Ukraine’s youth are not just about these current events. There is a larger battle of ideas and a geopolitical struggle still to come in the years ahead.
As TFAS vice president of international programs Michelle Le ’95, ’96 prepares for another impactful summer of TFAS programs, she is determined to bring the ideas of liberty to all young minds. Le reminds everyone that Ukrainian students will still be in need in the future, and TFAS wants to give them this opportunity.
“Even if the war were to end tomorrow, there would still be a need to serve these students and provide them with opportunity through TFAS,” she said. “Ukrainian students – and all who are impacted by threats to democracy around the world – are still going to be in need in 2024 and beyond.”
To support more Ukrainian students in 2023 and the future, please visit TFAS.org/Support and designate your gift for the Ukraine Student Scholarship Fund.