TFAS welcomed a new class of bright young leaders to Washington, D.C. this August with a series of virtual welcome events and orientation meetings. The 10 students, hailing from top colleges and universities across the U.S. and the Netherlands, ended their D.C.-required two-week quarantine on Sept. 6 with a socially-distanced walking tour of Capitol Hill, followed by an outdoor picnic.
Though the Fall 2020 Capital Semester program looks different than previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic, several students still hold in-person internships on Capitol Hill and across the District, while full-time virtual interns have remote workspaces at the National Press Club’s telework offices. Students will also engage in a series of virtual and in-person events and take upper level political science, international affairs and economics coursework through George Mason University.
The dynamic courses are taught by returning TFAS professors Richard Benedetto, former White House and national political correspondent for USA TODAY and American University journalism professor; Karen Czarnecki ’88, Vice President of Outreach at the Mercatus Center; and George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education and TFAS Academic Director Dr. Anne Bradley. Assistant Professor of Politics and Fellow of the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at Catholic University, Justin B. Litke, will also be joining the TFAS faculty as a first-time professor this year. These leaders in academia bring TFAS students a rigorous examination of the values of a free society.
As an international student, I look forward to immersing myself in the culture of the people of Washington, D.C. I’m excited to make new connections and build myself on a professional level.” – Tiffanie Oduber ’20
In addition to the high quality courses, TFAS is ensuring that this semester’s hybrid program delivers the same impactful lessons and experiences that have made previous Capital Semester programs so successful.
Director of U.S. Programs Joe Starrs encouraged students to embrace intellectual growth this fall, despite the challenges they may face while adjusting to the world’s “new normal.”
“While it’s certainly a tumultuous and challenging time to be in our nation’s capital, it’s still a very exciting time to be here,” Starrs shared during the virtual welcome ceremony. “Even though you are temporarily restricted from moving about because of quarantine, the moving begins today nonetheless. The movement that I’m speaking of is one of growth, change and expansion.”
Students participated in several virtual events over the course of their two-week quarantine, including an interactive guest lecture with TFAS Regent Chris Ullman. A champion whistler, esteemed communications expert and author of the recent book “Find Your Whistle,” Ullman shared the importance of treating fellow citizens with kindness, empathy and love to create positive change in our divisive world, despite perceived differences.
“You don’t actually see love, which is foundational, you see the fruits of it,” Ullman said. “If you love someone, then you want what is good for them, and if love is the foundation then you will see many positive things that flow from it.”
Over the next ten weeks, students will continue to participate in guest lectures from Washington’s leading experts, virtual site briefings with the U.S. Department of State and the Embassy of Australia, as well as networking and professional development seminars with TFAS alumni.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Aruba, Capital Semester student Tiffanie Oduber ’20 said she is most enthusiastic about having the opportunity to experience America’s capital firsthand. She hopes to establish long-term connections in the D.C. professional world through this semester’s virtual and in-person events and networking opportunities.
“As an international student, I look forward to immersing myself in the culture of the people of Washington, D.C.,” Oduber said. “I’m excited to make new connections and build myself on a professional level.”
Despite restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Oduber is hopeful that the semester will continue to be one of learning and growth through these new experiences.
“My experience with TFAS has been spectacular so far,” Oduber said. “Of course, there are moments where COVID-19 could potentially hinder certain activities or opportunities, but regardless of that, I can feel that the team behind this program has put in the effort to make it as normal and as excellent as possible, and I’m grateful that even though the program could have been cancelled, it was not.”
To stay up-to-date with the Fall 2020 Capital Semester program, follow @TFASorg on social media.