Two of the most important qualities that our world’s most respected leaders possess are integrity and honesty – this is the message that TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 shared with nearly 200 undergraduate students on Monday, June 8, during the 2020 TFAS Virtual Summer opening ceremony.
Ream encouraged this year’s cohort to explore new ideas and form lasting connections with their classmates as they embrace our D.C. Summer Program’s first-ever virtual format.
“Students who attend our programs will gain knowledge and experience and build lifelong friendships, even if those begin as virtual, digitally formed friendships,” Ream said. “Establish this valuable network and be prepared to face the difficult problems that face every generation of leaders in the world.”
Ream also challenged the students to take the valuable lessons they learn this summer to uphold the mission of TFAS and change the world through responsible leadership – whether it be on their university campuses, internships or future careers.
“We hope to reinforce the importance of integrity in honorable leadership,” Ream said. “It is through trust and integrity that a leader is able to improve things in the world.”
Students who attend our programs will gain knowledge and experience and build lifelong friendships, even if those begin as virtual, digitally formed friendships.” – TFAS President Roger Ream ’76
TFAS George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education and Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley also shared welcome remarks with students, encouraging the 2020 class to embrace their common connection through TFAS and utilize the resources that our world-class faculty provide.
“You come from different countries, different states, countless different experiences in your life, but what you have in common right now – one defining characteristic – is that you’re all now part of the TFAS family,” Bradley said. “As part of that TFAS family, we just want to welcome you and we want to let you know that we’re here for you.”
The 2020 “Welcome Week” virtual orientation activities continued on Tuesday, June 9, with a topical guest lecture by TFAS summer program speaker, comedian and free speech advocate, Karith Foster. Foster’s presentation titled “Can We Talk?: Critical Thinking and Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Time,” touched on the importance of having real, civil conversations on world issues in a constructive way.
Foster founded the Foster Russell Alliance for Meaningful Expression (FRAME) to spread the message of free speech, empowerment and social change to university campuses across the country through programming that promotes these important issues.
“To me, free speech is not a conservative issue and it’s not a liberal issue. It’s not partisan,” Foster said. “Free speech is an everyone issue, and it’s something that we need to value and hold dear because, as we see right now, good speech is needed more than ever in this moment.”
Through humor, authentic anecdotes and heartfelt stories, Foster also shared the importance of recognizing “inversity” in place of diversity, a term she coined to focus introspectively on our common connections to humanity, while still acknowledging and respecting our differences.
“It is still a nod to accepting and acknowledging our differences, but shifting the focus more from what separates and divides us to more of what we have in common, how we can be truly inclusive to one another, but most importantly, how we can be introspective,” Foster explained.
The 2020 TFAS Virtual Summer class includes a dynamic group of nearly 200 students representing 124 colleges and universities across the country who will take these welcome messages with them as they continue throughout the program this summer.
Free speech is an everyone issue, and it’s something that we need to value and hold dear because, as we see right now, good speech is needed more than ever in this moment.” – Karith Foster
These young leaders from more than 40 states will spend the next two months taking online upper-level courses at George Mason University taught by outstanding TFAS faculty on subjects including “Economies in Transition,” “Economic Problems and Public Policies,” “U.S. Foreign Policy” and more.
In addition to their coursework, students will attend virtual guest lectures and site briefings while interning remotely at leading think tanks, policy organizations, media outlets and nonprofits in the nation’s capital.
Students began their first day of internships on Wednesday, June 10, and orientation activities continue throughout the first week with peer connection meetings, a trivia and networking social event and program track breakout meetings. Students also attended small group virtual events with alumni and professionals at PhARMA and C-SPAN, and private panels on “Becoming a Foreign Service Officer” and “National Security Careers.”