Fall 2014 (September-December)

The IR Fellows have had a very busy, if not particularly well-documented visually, fall semester. The first event IRF event of the semester was the summer reading discussion held with the ’18s and other interested Middle School students on their assigned summer reading: Arkin and Priest, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.  (The summer reading assignment for the ’16s and ’17s was to keep up with their reading of the journal Foreign Affairs.)

Arkin-and-Priest-Top-Secret-America

Also in September, inspired by her having read Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and building on her successful screening of the documentary Girl Rising last spring, Sophie Kidd (’16) created, along with fellow junior Sophie Jacobson, a new club: a Norfolk Academy chapter of the United Nations “Girl Up” organization.  In Sophie’s own words, her goal was to “educate the people around me who were the same age as these suffering girls.”  The Girl Up Initiative “envisions a world where all girls, no matter where they live, have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders.”  In its first year NA’s Girl Up chapter has forty-seven members, making it the second largest club at Norfolk Academy.

The IR Fellows program also experienced three critical administrative advances early in the fall.  Most importantly, Mr. Bernie McMahon formally joined the IR Fellows faculty leadership team.  Second, each ’17 was assigned to one of the leadership “cones”:

  • Administration and Leadership: Luke Cromwell;
  • External Relations: Jaden Baum and Alix Galumbeck;
  • Internal Relations: Nico Moscoso;
  • Scheduling: Hallie Griffiths; and
  • Special Projects: Chris Kazakis.

Finally, we initiated a new student mentorship program.  In a playful evening ceremony in Mr. McMahon’s backyard, each ’18 was assigned a ’16 to be his or her mentor.  Next year the ’17s will be assigned a ’19 to mentor, and when the ’16s graduate the ’18s will then become mentors themselves to ’20s.  The mentoring pairs are

  • Thomas Ferguson (’16) with Jimmy Peccie (’18);
  • Sophie Kidd (’16) with Tai Jeffers (’18);
  • Pablo Vazquez (’16) with Adavya Dhawan (’18);
  • Hannah Wheaton (’16) with Sophia Burke (’18); and, doing double duty,
  • Jessica Williams (’16) with Mila Colizza (’18) and Chase Yager (’18).

In October, Thomas Ferguson (’16) and Pablo Vazquez (’16) co-authored an editorial on “Stopping Violence in the Middle East with Empathy” for the upcoming edition of NA’s The Academy publication.  Also in October, many of the IR Fellows were able to attend the “Clash of the Titans” debate at Regent University.  The subject of this year’s debate was “Has America Lost Its Leading Edge?”  Panelists included a former U.S. Representative to the United Nations and former presidents of Canada and Mexico.  The “after action” discussions we had among ourselves after that event were particularly lively!

The logo for Regent University’s 2014 “Clash of the Titans” event.

The logo for Regent University’s 2014 “Clash of the Titans” event.

Finally, as usual, this fall we maintained our pattern of student-led discussions of Foreign Affairs articles.  Also this semester each IRF received a subscription to the British publication The Economist.  We experimented throughout the fall trying to find the right balance between in-depth discussions of world events, stemming from Foreign Affairs articles, and closely following contemporary events on a weekly basis via The Economist.  Long story short, they have both proved to be invaluable educational tools.

DIME Seminar, September 2014

On September 13, 2014, the Center for Civic and Global Leadership partnered with Tri-Arach Consulting to produce an extraordinary day-long foreign policy exercise for the International Relations Fellows and the Global Health Fellows.  Organized primarily by Tri-Arach President Taylor Beattie (LTC, USA SF [Ret.]), the “DIME Seminar” brought together an extraordinary collection of foreign policy experts to share their expertise and experiences with the Fellows.  Collectively our guests represented every “DIME” element of “national power”: diplomacy/development, information/intelligence, military, and economics:

  • Representing “diplomacy” was retired Foreign Service Officer Ms. Susan Zelle.  During her distinguished career Zelle had served as, among other roles, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Gambia and Deputy Chief of Mission to Burundi.
  • Representing “development” was Secretary J. Edward Fox.  Fox served in numerous roles within the U.S. Government during his career, including Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security and Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Public Affairs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Representing “intelligence” was former clandestine Central Intelligence Agency officer Ms. Lindsay Moran.  Ms. Moran is author of Blowing My Cover: My Life as a Spy.
  • Representing “military” was David Maxwell (COL, USA SF [Ret.]).  Maxwell is currently the Associate Director for the Center for Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
  • Representing “economics” was Mr. Brian Kurtz.  A pioneer in the field of “expeditionary economics,” Kurtz established a $300 million USAID Banking and Business Development Program for Bosnia in order to aid its rebuilding effort following the Yugoslav Civil War.  Kurtz also served, among other roles, as a USAID consultant in Afghanistan.

After a morning spent learning from these distinguished panelists, IR Fellows and Global Health Fellows were divided into three embassy “country teams” and assigned individual roles within each team.  They were then presented with a realistic, real-world scenario for which they had to prepare a response proposal to forwarded back up to “State Main.”  The day concluded with each group presenting its solution to the problem to the panel, which then offered insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each proposed solution.

"Deputy Chief of Mission" Thomas Ferguson (IRF '16) briefs the panel on his country team's proposed solution to the problem they had been presented with.

“Deputy Chief of Mission” Thomas Ferguson (IRF ’16) briefs the panel on his country team’s proposed solution to the problem they had been presented with.

It was truly an extraordinary day!

’16 IRFs and GHFs Travel to China, June 2014

Norfolk Academy partnered with the private company Where There Be Dragons to take the ’16 IR Fellows cohort, the ’16 Global Health Fellows cohort, and numerous other Norfolk Academy students, to China.  They explored urban China (Beijing), rural China (doing home stays with the Naxi people in southwest China), and numerous points in between.  The trip was chaperoned by NA faculty Mr. Bernie McMahon and Dr. Natasha Naujoks.

They maintained an extensive, student-driven blog while they were in China.  To learn more about their trip, visit their blog at http://wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/china-norfolk/.

’18s Visit Washington, June 2014

From June 22nd to June 27th the newest cohort of Fellows, the ’18s, took the now-traditional first-summer tour of the Washington foreign policy establishment.  The trip was chaperoned by IR Fellows Director David Rezelman and his wife, NA Middle School Latin teacher Lisa Marie Priddy.

In her capacity as one of the “External Relations Officers,” Alix Galumbeck (’17) compiled a tremendous amount of information about our visit to Washington.  Unless otherwise noted, the text below was written by Alix or one of the ’18s themselves.

“The ’18s descended on DC this summer for the traditional introduction to International Relations.”

The International Relations Class of 2018 (left to right): Adavya, Chase, Mila, Albert, Sophia, Jimmy, and Tai.

The International Relations Class of 2018 (left to right): Adavya, Chase, Mila, Albert, Sophia, Jimmy, and Tai.

“Sunday: During our four-hour drive to DC, we played an exciting game of ‘contact.’  After settling in to our nice hotel, we met with a Foreign Service Officer, Dr. Judith Baroody, and her husband, a former member of the Air Force, Dr. Richard Krueger.  Dr. Baroody talked to us about the Foreign Service and provided a great introduction for our trip.  We grabbed some American food and bonded before going to bed.”

The '17s discuss diplomacy with senior Foreign Service Officer Dr. Judith Baroody and Dr. Richard Krueger (USAF [Ret.]).

The ’17s discuss diplomacy with senior Foreign Service Officer Dr. Judith Baroody and Dr. Richard Krueger (USAF [Ret.]).

“Monday: We visited Common Cause, an NGO that fights for less governmental secrecy.  We met with Mr. Dale Eisman, Mr. Aaron Scherb, and Mr. Steve Spaulding.”  This visit was followed by some general tourist exploration of the District.

The '18s at the conclusion of their visit to the Common Cause NGO.

The ’18s at the conclusion of their visit to the Common Cause NGO.

“Tuesday: We spent the majority of the day touring the Pentagon and talking with [a senior U.S. Navy officer who had done some pretty neat stuff].  Before the tour, we had an extremely delicious yet different meal of Ethiopian food to fill our stomachs.  After the tour, we met with Greg Priddy, Ms. Priddy’s brother, who works as an oil analyst for the private risk consulting firm Eurasia Group.  Only days earlier he had appeared on PBS NewsHour!  We ended the day with a dinner of Middle Eastern food.”

Jimmy Peccie ('18), Adavya Dhawan ('18), Chase Yager ('18), and Dr. Rezelman enjoy authentic Ethiopian cuisine.

Jimmy Peccie (’18), Adavya Dhawan (’18), Chase Yager (’18), and Dr. Rezelman enjoy authentic Ethiopian cuisine.

Sophia Burke ('18), Mila Colizza ('18), Tai Jeffers ('18), and Ms. Priddy enjoy authentic Ethiopian cuisine.

Sophia Burke (’18), Mila Colizza (’18), Tai Jeffers (’18), and Ms. Priddy enjoy authentic Ethiopian cuisine.

Dr. Rezelman and the '18s at the Pentagon.

Dr. Rezelman and the ’18s at the Pentagon.

“Wednesday: We devoted the day to the Capitol Building.  We met with two staffers who work with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ms. Karen Courington and Mr. Basant Sanghera.  Then two college interns, Isaac and Connor, were nice enough to take us on a detailed tour of the entire Capitol Building.”

The '18s in front of the nation's Capitol.

The ’18s in front of the nation’s Capitol.

We then made several brief visits to various Smithsonian museums on the Mall.  Among other things, the ’18s were “treated” to impromptu lectures from Dr. Rezelman on the space program and modern “drone” warfare while standing in front of appropriate props in the National Air and Space Museum.  Our final museum visit was to the National Museum of African Art.

The '18s discuss an African artistic celebration of President Barack Obama's heritage in the National Museum of African Art.

The ’18s discuss an artistic celebration of President Barack Obama’s heritage in the National Museum of African Art.

“Thursday: This was our busiest day. We walked by the White House on our way to a meeting with Dr. Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute, a medium-sized think tank.”

Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute Chris Preble enjoys Dr. Rezelman's substitution of the phrase "mistakes were made" in lieu of the traditional "cheese" when posing for photographs.

Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute Chris Preble enjoys Dr. Rezelman’s substitution of the phrase “mistakes were made” in lieu of the traditional “cheese” when posing for photographs.

“After a very interesting discussion with Dr. Preble, we visited Mr. McMahon’s father’s house for lunch and had a very informative and interesting conversation about the U.S. Intelligence Community and how it is organized and operates.  After that, we went to the headquarters of the Peace Corps to learn more about soft power and their experiences and opportunities abroad.  Ms. Jocelyn Sarmiento, Mr. Ryan Fouss, Mr. Kelvin Grant, and Mr. Scott Kumis gave us a very thoughtful presentation about their jobs.”  Lastly, we met with several current and former Georgetown University students (and Norfolk Academy alumni) at “The Tombs,” a local campus hangout.  One, Iris Kim (’12), was in the midst of an internship at the State Department.  Iris, Irene Cavros (’10), and Denise Mousouris (’10) were all veterans of Dr. Rezelman’s International Relations course.  “They talked about their internship experiences and gave us advice about college.”

“Friday: We met with Ms. Sammia Hodgson, Ms. Maria Margarita, and Mr. Arturo McFields at the Nicaraguan Embassy.  They described their work at the embassy and informed us about their country.”

The '18s with Ms. Maria Margarita (left) and Ms. Sammia Hodgson (right) at the Nicaraguan Embassy.

The ’18s with Ms. Maria Margarita (left) and Ms. Sammia Hodgson (right) at the Nicaraguan Embassy.

Alix asked each of the ’18s to share what their favorite part of the trip had been:

Mila Colizza (’18): “My favorite part of our DC trip was visiting the Peace Corps.  We walked in and I immediately felt welcomed in a very young, energetic environment.  It was as though I could see myself there in the future.  We were given several presentations form people who had traveled to Jamaica and Africa.  It excited me to know that people actually did something so far-reaching.  It also sparked a passion in me about languages and the ability to communicate across all other boundaries.  Part of my personal mission as an IR Fellow is to learn about the world around me.  And what better way to learn about the world around me than to be fully immersed in it?”

Chase Yager (’18): “My favorite part of the trip was the tour of the Pentagon and talking with” the senior U.S. Navy officer.

Adavya Dhawan (’18): “My favorite part of DC trip was our tour of the Pentagon.  I have visited many of the monuments in my millions of trips to DC in my lifetime, but to have the opportunity to visit the Pentagon was definitely a new experience for me.  I had heard stories about the vast size of its interior, but being inside truly opened my eyes to the magnitude of the building.  There were so many hallways and staircases that all lead to a different place; it was overwhelming.  The highlight of the tour was the search for the ‘rare purple water fountain.’  Rumor has it that in the entire Pentagon, there was this one purple water fountain with truly no significance at all but the rarity of its color.  Our group was on a true scavenger hunt for this fountain but we only found it with the help of a janitor.  It was a fascinating journey and completely worth the time and effort.  Another highlight of the tour was the ‘Hall of Honor’ which by the way I am pretty sure we were not supposed to be there, but we were told to act as if we belonged there.  I am still contemplating why a group of fourteen-year-old boys and girls would belong there.  Yet, it was totally worth it to catch a glimpse of some pretty famous people.”

The '18s outside the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

The ’18s outside the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

Tai Jeffers (’18): “My favorite part of the trip was our visit to the Peace Corps.  They had a laid back attitude.  Even though the people there were young, you could tell that they got work done.  Their presentation was fun and thought provoking.  I might actually apply after college!”

Sophia Burke (’18): “My favorite parts of the trip (besides getting to know each other better) were the food, touring the Pentagon, visiting the Peace Corps, and talking with Mr. McMahon’s dad.  We went to really good restaurants and had a lot of fun just taking a break and relaxing after a long day.  We also played some really fun games after dinner while eating frozen yogurt or Starbucks in a nearby park.  The Pentagon was fun because our tour guide gave us an extremely detailed tour and explained everything thoroughly.  He told us a lot about his personal life and career as well as some interesting stories about his work with the Pentagon.  The Peace Corps was great because the people were super friendly and found a fun way to teach us about their trips (one guy spoke/sang in a Jamaican accent and another showed us a music video he shot for a boy).  And lastly, Mr. McMahon’s dad taught us SO much about his career and gave us a problem to solve using the knowledge of what he talked to us about.”

Jimmy Peccie (’18): “My favorite part of the DC trip was definitely walking through the section of the Pentagon where the top-ranking officials’ offices were and glancing in each one of them to see if they were working (the Secretary of Defense, for example, unfortunately was not there).  It was very kind of our contact to lead us through there and it was overall a really cool experience.  I also enjoyed the late night bonding sessions that we would do as a group after a long, tiring day of walking around DC.  It was nice to have time to relax and really get to know one another better.”

Once again, we return to the theme: in the process of getting to know more about the world during these trips, we get to know more about each other as well!

’17s Visit New York City, June 2014

From June 10th to June 14th the IRF ’17s visited New York City in order to learn more about journalism, finance, and corporate law.  The trip was chaperoned by IR Fellows Director David Rezelman and his wife, NA Middle School Latin teacher Lisa Marie Priddy.

On our first day in New York we visited one of the centers of the new frontier of internet journalism: BuzzFeed.  Our host was International Relations Club veteran Ellie Hall (’07).  Ms. Hall showed us around her shop and offered some fascinating comparisons between the culture at BuzzFeed and that at her previous job at NBC Nightly News (where the ’16s visited her in Washington two years ago).  Our favorite fact: every conference room at BuzzFeed’s corporate headquarters is named after a different internet cat meme!

The '17s at the entrance to BuzzFeed's headquarters.

The ’17s at the entrance to BuzzFeed’s headquarters.

BuzzFeed's headquarters.

BuzzFeed’s headquarters.

Following our visit to BuzzFeed, the IR Fellows Class of 2018 traveled to the Khyber Pass.  Financial and security considerations ruled out a visit to the actual pass, so we settled for the East Village restaurant instead.

Afghan cuisine at the Khyber Pass.

Afghan cuisine at the Khyber Pass.

Our visit to the Khyber Pass (Restaurant).

Our visit to the Khyber Pass (Restaurant).

After a brief stroll through the campus of New York University, the ’18s were treated to a history of the Marcos family’s role in Filipino politics, as presented in the form of an interactive dance musical.  No — really.  Only then did the ’18s realize why Dr. Rezelman had at the airport that morning given them a seemingly-random lecture on mid-20th century Filipino politics.  At one point we’re pretty sure we heard the D.J. urge all the theatergoers to “get down with the world leaders,” at which point dancers wearing masks of people like Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Muammar Gaddafi, began to “get down” with audience members.  The experience was highly educational.  No — really.

Basking in the afterglow of an interactive IR-related dance musical.

Basking in the afterglow of an interactive IR-related dance musical.

Alix Galumbeck (’17) picks up the narrative for Day #2 of our visit: “We started the next day with a meeting with Mack Kline, a Norfolk Academy graduate.  He works for J.P. Morgan, a financial investment advisory firm.  Mr. Kline explained that the company does not tell the client what to invest in, but instead, educates the client about the options and invests the client’s money in the options he or she chooses.  Mr. Kline’s parting words were to find something about which we are passionate and pursue it.”

Hallie Griffiths ('17) thanks Mack Kline ('06) for explaining international banking to us over coffee.

Hallie Griffiths (’17) thanks Mack Kline (’06) for explaining banking to us over coffee.

We then took a walk past the United Nations.  (Our contact at the UN fell through, so we were only able to see it from the outside.)

The '17s in front of the main United Nations building.

The ’17s in front of the main United Nations building.

Alix resumes the narrative: “Next, we walked to Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett to meet Jon Zelig, an attorney and Norfolk Academy alumnus.  He told us what it is like to be a lawyer in today’s world.  Mr. Zelig also gave us a mini-lesson on how to be successful.  He told us when making a career choice, ask someone ten years older than you for advice.  Your parents are too old to advise on current career choices, and your peers are too young.  A ten-year window allows a person to learn about today’s career climate and give good advice.”

The '17s and Dr. Rezelman with Jon Zelig ('04) after our discussion of corporate law.  Jon was the President of the International Relations Club during Dr. Rezelman's first year at Norfolk Academy.

The ’17s and Dr. Rezelman with Jon Zelig (’04) after our discussion of corporate law. Jon was the President of the International Relations Club during Dr. Rezelman’s first year at Norfolk Academy.

Alix continues: “After Mr. Zelig, we arrived at the Wall Street Journal.  We met with Jason Bellini and Sara Shenasky.  Mr. Bellini, a senior producer at the WSJ, gave us a tour of the facilities.  He told us that to survive in the journalism field you have to get your foot in the door early.  Journalism is quickly moving to online and video sources.  You have to be able to summarize a current event in a sentence because people do not take the time to read a newspaper article.  Ms. Shenasky, WSJ‘s Director of Global Events, plans major events for the WSJ.  She stumbled into this job after trying many different things and she loves it.  She encouraged us to explore many of our interests before deciding on a career.”

Jason Bellini shows the '17s around the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal.

Jason Bellini shows the ’17s around the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal.

The '17s, Ms. Priddy, and Dr. Rezelman, at the headquarters of the Wall Street Journal.

The ’17s, Ms. Priddy, and Dr. Rezelman, at the headquarters of the Wall Street Journal.

Hallie Griffiths thanks Sara Shenasky for arranging our visit to the Wall Street Journal.

Hallie Griffiths thanks Sara Shenasky for arranging our visit to the Wall Street Journal.

From there we walked to the southern end of Central Park, in part to continue the ’17s tradition of carousel riding.

Hallie Griffiths mugs for the camera during the '17s traditional summer carousel ride (this time in Central Park).

Hallie Griffiths mugs for the camera during the ’17s traditional summer carousel ride (this time in Central Park).

Alix: “We ended the day with a fabulous Cuban meal.  Nico had the ox tail, I had a fetal pig, and we all survived.”

Alix Galumbeck ('17) and Hallie Griffiths ('17) enjoy their Cuban dinner.

Alix Galumbeck (’17) and Hallie Griffiths (’17) enjoy their Cuban dinner.

What Alix fails to mention, however, is that despite their chaperones’ prior warnings, several of the ’17s made the rookie tourist mistake of agreeing to pose for photos with various “cartoon characters” in Times Square, only to be hassled for money afterwards.  It was almost — almost — as kitschy as the similar scene outside Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (at least in New York there are mostly muppets and Disney characters and no Star Wars Stormtroopers!).

The '17s in Times Square (shortly before we were shaken down by a disreputable collection of Elmos and Minnie Mouses).

The ’17s in Times Square (shortly before we were shaken down by a disreputable collection of Elmos and Minnie Mouses).

Our third day in New York began with a visit to the historic Eldridge Street National Landmark Synagogue.  Founded in 1887, tours of the synagogue offer fascinating insights into the multicultural nature of 19th century immigrant New York neighborhoods (not to mention the stunning beauty of the building itself).  The “American Dream” remains a powerful component of U.S. “soft power” in the world today.

The female '17s pose in the "women's section" of the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue while the male '17s look on from the "men's section."

The female ’17s pose in the “women’s section” of the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue while the male ’17s look on from the “men’s section” below.

Following this we visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which offered more fascinating insights into the role of immigration in American history and its lasting influence on U.S. culture and foreign policy.  We then took the subway downtown and visited the National September 11 Memorial.  In the shadow of the newly-completed Freedom Tower, Dr. Rezelman and Ms. Priddy recounted for the students the events of that day.  (The ’17s were only two or three years old on that day.)

Nico and Luke contemplate the 9/11 Memorial.

Nico Moscoso (’17) and Luke Cromwell (’17) contemplate the 9/11 Memorial.

Our final destinations for the day were Federal Hall, where George Washington took his oath of office as the first President of the United States, and the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

The '17s on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (and facing Federal Hall).

The ’17s on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (and facing Federal Hall).

Alix resumes her narrative of Day #4 of our trip: “We embraced our inner tourist and walked in the rain to a boat tour of Manhattan Island.  Little did we know it would be a fateful tour.  Halfway through the tour, we learned our flight was cancelled.  We would be forced to spend another night in the Big Apple.  On the cruise we saw the Octagon, the first public mental hospital, Colombia University (founded in 1754), Harlem, Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, the Brooklyn Bridge (one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States), the Little Red Lighthouse (saved from destruction by fans of the children’s book), and Lady Liberty.”

Nico Moscoso ('17) and Luke Cromwell ('17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.

Nico Moscoso (’17) and Luke Cromwell (’17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.

Hallie Griffiths ('17) and Alix Galumbeck ('17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.

Hallie Griffiths (’17) and Alix Galumbeck (’17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.

Alix continues: “Then we walked along the High Line, a park built along an unused portion of the New York Central Railroad.  With our additional night, we were able to explore another international cuisine: Korean food.  Some of us experimented with squid, seaweed, and dumplings.  Hallie had a unique experience with wasabi.

Everyone enjoys some Korean cuisine during our bonus evening in New York "thanks" to Delta Airlines cancelling our evening flight.

Everyone enjoys some Korean cuisine during our “bonus” evening in New York thanks to Delta Airlines cancelling our evening flight.

Alix: “We ended our adventure with a completely American event, The Shake Shack, for dessert!”  Ellie Hall had introduced us to the Shake Shack on our first day, and given that there was one just around the corner from our hotel, we had to return one last time.  Meeting fascinating people and visiting historic sites is all well and good, but perhaps the most rewarding times on trips like these are the conversations we have during relaxed “down time” over things like high quality ice cream!

CCGL Symposium 2014

On May 21, 2014, the Center for Civic and Global Leadership (CCGL) held its Second Annual Fellows Symposium.  Faced with the challenge of having thirty-seven Fellows presenting their projects, this year we moved the Symposium to a variety of spaces in the first floor of Batten Library.  The IR Fellows were concentrated in Johnson Lab.  Following introductory remarks by CCGL Director Sean Wetmore, the Keynote Address this year was an inspiring talk from Conrad Hall on the subject of “Civic Engagement and the Common Good.”

Headmaster Dennis Manning and Keynote Speaker Conrad Hall.

Headmaster Dennis Manning and Keynote Speaker Conrad Hall.

Each of the Fellows cohorts then stood and introduced briefly the subjects of their projects.

The IRF '16s introduce their Symposium topics.

The IRF ’16s introduce their Symposium topics.

The IRF '17s introduce their Symposium topics.

The IRF ’17s introduce their Symposium topics.

IR Fellows from both cohorts chose as the subjects of their projects a wide variety of topics:

Thomas Ferguson (’16) presented on “The Effects of Apartheid on South Africa’s Economy.”  As he explained, “As a result of my interest in economics and the development of Africa in the post-colonial era, I chose to study Africa’s most significant economy: South Africa.  In addition to that, I have been studying introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics and hope to teach about these topics in the Breakthrough at Norfolk Academy program.”

Thomas Ferguson ('16)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Thomas Ferguson (’16) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Sophie Kidd (’16) presented on “Female Artists for Social Change.”  As she explained, “I am examining the work of a female punk band, visual artist, and writer who all use their works to advocate for social change.  Through their revolutionary artistic advocacy, these artists changed the world with their workds and their ability to promote activism.”

Sophie Kidd ('16) discusses her Symposium project with Dr. Natasha Naujoks, May 2014.

Sophie Kidd (’16) discusses her Symposium project with Dr. Natasha Naujoks, May 2014.

Pablo Vazquez (’16) presented on “Our Best Friend in the Middle East: U.S. Ties to Saudi Arabia in the Last Decades.”  As he explained, “I will be discussing: Saudi Arabia and 9/11; Bush Administration ties to Saudi Arabia; U.S. championing of democracy in Iraq, but not in Saudi Arabia; and finally, how it is all explained by our need for oil.”

Pablo Vazquez ('16) discusses his project with Dr. Leslie Hennessey at the Symposium, May 2014.

Pablo Vazquez (’16) discusses his project with Dr. Leslie Hennessey at the Symposium, May 2014.

Hannah Wheaton (’16) presented on “Child, Not Bride: A Cornerstone to the Advancement of Women in Nigeria.”  As she explained, “There are many pressing issues straining the advancement of young women in sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria, and one of hte most challenging is the high rate of child marriage.  Without the completion of their education, many young women have their childhood stolen and lose opportunities to better their lives and communities.”

Hannah Wheaton ('16)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Hannah Wheaton (’16) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Jessica Williams (’16) presented on “North Korea’s Information Bubble.”  As she explained, “North Korea has one of the most tightly controlled media in history.  Freedom of speech and press is a human right that cannot be ignored.  I will be discussing the Hermit Kingdom’s isolated information bubble and how we can reach the people trapped inside.”

Jessica Williams ('16)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Jessica Williams (’16) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Jaden Baum (’17) presented on “Pros and Cons of a Two-State Solution.”  As she explained, “My presentation will juxtapose the benefits of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine and explore the possible conflicts this agreement might create.”

Jaden Baum ('17) discusses her project with Chase Yager ('18) at the Symposium, May 2014.

Jaden Baum (’17) discusses her project with Chase Yager (’18) at the Symposium, May 2014.

Luke Cromwell (’17) presented on the “Democratic Republic of the Congo: Strengthening the Heart of Africa.”  As he explained, “The DRC’s current state is one filled with corruption, a barely existent economy, lack of security, and rampant genocide.  In 2011, the United Stats alone dumped $2.3 billion in foreign aid into the country, and their situation has only gotten worse.  The DRC’s future depends on foreign guidance now.”

Luke Cromwell ('17)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Luke Cromwell (’17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Alix Galumbeck (’17) presented on the “Smack Down in Ukraine: East vs. West.”  As she explained, “Ukraine plays a pivotal role in American-Russian relations.  Will these superpowers become fast friends or will another Cold War ensue?  The answer lies with Ukraine.”

Alix Galumbeck ('17)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Alix Galumbeck (’17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Hallie Griffiths (’17) asked “Why Aren’t We Taking Nuclear Proliferation Seriously?”  As she explained, “I created five questions about nuclear proliferation, the Nonproliferation Treaty, and issues surrounding the Treaty around which I based my research.  The major issue I plan to discuss is the inability of the treaty to deter proliferation and what can be done about that.”

Hallie Griffiths ('17)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Hallie Griffiths (’17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Chris Kazakis (’17) presented on “Economic Policy and Challenges in Brazil.”  As he explained,” I will be doing a piece on the economy of Brazil and the government of Brazil’s approach to economic policy.  I plan to compare Brazil’s economic state to similar nations, present my own opinion on how Brazil can better its economy, and talk about why I think Brazil might be important to the U.S.”

Chris Kazakis ('17)  presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Chris Kazakis (’17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Nico Moscoso (’17) presented on “Chechnya: Ending a 150 Year Struggle.”  As he explained, “My project will talk about the history of Chechnya and its fight for independence from Russia.  My project will present a solution that appeases both sides and makes Chechnya more independent.”

Nico Moscoso ('17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Nico Moscoso (’17) presents at the Symposium, May 2014.

Spring 2014 (January-May)

Admissions

The most important event in spring 2014, and indeed in the entire academic year, was the ’18s admissions cycle.  Selecting the right students is the key to creating and maintaining a culture of enthusiasm, friendliness, and excellence.  The task is daunting: there are typically 20-30 applicants for only 5-6 slots for incoming IR Fellows each year.

In keeping with our determination to practice, not just talk, leadership, “Special Projects Officer” Jessica Williams (’16) was given responsibility for preparing the IR Fellows portion of the CCGL admissions presentation.  Due to a scheduling mishap beyond her control, she was only given about ten days to put the whole presentation together.  The stellar quality of the students who chose to apply to the IRF program attests to the tremendous success of Jessica’s presentation.  In interviews conducted during the admissions process, many students cited as a major factor that interested them in becoming an IRF that our admissions presentation was almost entirely conducted by the students themselves.  Often those who had Mr. Boland as a teacher also cited the quality of Jessica’s classroom presentation as something that impressed upon them the quality of the IRF program.

Six students emerged from the fiercely competitive application process to become the IRF Class of 2018: Sophia Burke, Mila Colizza, Adavya Dhawan, Tai Jeffers, Jimmy Peccie, and Chase Yager.

(Left to right): CCGL Director Sean Wetmore, Mila Colizza ('18), Jimmy Peccie ('18), Chase Yager ('18), Adavya Dhawan ('18), Sophia Burke ('18), Tai Jeffers ('18), IRF Director David Rezelman, and Headmaster Dennis Manning.

(Left to right): CCGL Director Sean Wetmore, Mila Colizza (’18), Jimmy Peccie (’18), Chase Yager (’18), Adavya Dhawan (’18), Sophia Burke (’18), Tai Jeffers (’18), IRF Director David Rezelman, and Headmaster Dennis Manning.

Screening of the Documentary Girl Rising

 In the spring Sophie Kidd (’16) viewed a documentary called Girl Rising.  She had long had a special interest in girls’ education, and she was moved by the film’s powerful message, so she determined to bring it to the wider Norfolk Academy community.  As the documentary’s web site explains, “Girl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education.  We use the power of storytelling to share the simple truth that educating girls can transform societies.  Girl Rising unites girls, women, boys and men who believe every girl has the right to go to school and the right to reach her full potential.  Our mission is to change the way the world values the girl.”  
Sophie took the initiative and made the necessary arrangements that culminated in a very well-attended private screening of the film in Landmark Auditorium on February 4th, 2014.  (The movie is available today as a DVD to purchase, but at the time the only way to show it at Norfolk Academy was to license a private screening directly with the movie’s producers.)  No who who attended were left unaffected by the film’s powerful message.  Some in attendance were moved to tears.  
Girl Rising (2013).

Girl Rising (2013).

 Foreign Affairs and Current Events
The IRFs continued their business-as-usual in the spring when it came to our regular student-led discussions of articles from Foreign Affairs.  From time-to-time we would also devote portions of, or even entire, meetings to discussions of contemporary world events.  We benefited tremendously when doing both from the frequent ability of Mr. McMahon to attend IRF meetings despite his numerous other commitments.  

Fall 2013 (September-December)

2013 Summer Reading

The beginning of the 2013-2014 school year saw major changes come to the IR Fellows program.  Our student body more than doubled in size with the addition of six ’17s.  This growth was made manageable by the increasing support provided to the group by Mr. McMahon and by the increasing leadership role taken on by the IRFs themselves.

The year began with a group discussion among the ’17s, and other interested Middle School students, of their summer reading: George Kennan’s classic study of American Diplomacy.  (As their summer reading the ’16s kept up with their subscriptions to the journal Foreign Affairs.)

The summer reading for the IRF '17s.

The summer reading for the IRF ’17s.

Foreign Affairs Discussions

The “bread and butter” intellectual work of both cohorts of Fellows remained our student-led discussions of articles from Foreign Affairs.  Each discussion typically begins with a brief background presentation by the day’s student discussion facilitator.  He or she provides the group with basic information about the experiences and previously-expressed views of the author so that we can all place his or her argument within its proper context.  The group usually then attempts to articulate succinctly the author’s main point.  More context for the wider framework of foreign policy debates the author is addressing is provided as necessary by the discussion facilitator, Dr. Rezelman, and/or Mr. McMahon.  Once Fellows understand the argument, they are then invited to express their opinions on the author’s argument and, with any luck, a, well, argument ensues.  One of our goals is to learn the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.  This, along with “don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do very seriously,” is only one of the many “Official IR Fellows Slogans.”

Thomas Ferguson ('16) leads a group discussion.

Thomas Ferguson (’16) leads a group discussion.

Hannah Wheaton ('16) and Pablo Vazquez ('16) debate.

Hannah Wheaton (’16) and Pablo Vazquez (’16) debate.

Rezelman provides context (note Sophie [right] is sensibly preparing to encourage him to "wrap it up").

Rezelman provides context (note Sophie [right] is sensibly preparing to encourage him to “wrap it up”).

Sometimes the complexities of the issue require a bit of a more formal presentation from Dr. Rezelman or Mr. McMahon.  We try to avoid formal lecture as much as possible, and for the most part we succeed.  Our guiding discussion principle is embodied by what has become known as The Sophie Rule: “only one person speaks at a time.”  Dubbed the “discussion ninja,” by acclamation Sophie is considered by the group the best discussion leader.  She has also taken on the role of, when (frequently) necessary, making sure Dr. Rezelman doesn’t end up dominating the conversation,  (It should be noted it was at least Dr. Rezelman who had the good sense to assign to Sophie this role.)

Dr. Rezelman pontificates with his ever-present sidekick Google Earth.

Dr. Rezelman pontificates alongside his ever-present sidekick Google Earth.

Nico Moscoso ('17), Luke Cromwell ('17), and Jessica Williams ('16) find Rezelman's presentation captivating.

Nico Moscoso (’17), Luke Cromwell (’17), and Jessica Williams (’16) are simultaneously captivated and amused by find Rezelman’s presentation.

Hannah Wheaton ('16) makes a point during group discussion.

Hannah Wheaton (’16) gets a word in edgewise.

The Creation of the Leadership “Cone” System

At the initiative of Thomas Ferguson (’16), in the early winter the IR Fellows program made its most important administrative and leadership advance to date: the creation of the “cone” system.  Borrowing the “cone” terminology used within the State Department, the IRF ’16s decided to divide themselves into five leadership categories in order to take on a greater leadership role within the program.  Though Thomas created the initial cone organization, once the ’16s decided who should assume which role, each Fellow played a vital role in further defining what his or her responsibilities should be.  The results:

  • Administration and Leadership: Thomas Ferguson (’16);
    • the “Admin Officer” administers and adjusts as necessary the cone system, assigning specific tasks to each student and monitoring their progress;
    • the “Admin Officer” also takes the lead in organizing IRF participation in leadership exercises;
  • External Relations: Hannah Wheaton (’16);
    • the “External Relations” officer coordinates IRF interactions outside of the NA community;
    • examples of such duties include maintaining the blog and communicating with and about related external organizations such as the World Affairs Council;
  • Internal Relations: Pablo Vazquez (’16);
    • the “Internal Relations Officer” coordinates IRF interactions with other components of the CCGL and within the wider NA community;
    • examples of such duties include arranging for joint meetings with other Fellows groups on subjects of mutual interest (e.g. a discussion of Ebola with the Global Health Fellows) and arranging for IRFs to visit the classrooms of younger NA students;
  • Scheduling: Sophie Kidd (’16);
    • the “Scheduling Officer” selects the times and locations of IRF meetings and sets the agendas for each meeting; and
  • Special Projects: Jessica Williams (’16);
    • the “Special Projects Officer” takes on large, long-term projects, as directed by the Administration and Leadership Officer in conjunction with the faculty leadership of the IRF program;
    • examples of early “special projects” have included so far supervising the creation of a student-driven admissions presentation and assisting in preparing for the World Affairs Council’s fall “WorldQuest” competition.

Jessica Williams (’16) Teaches Ancient History

On December 2nd Jessica Williams (’16) taught Carl Boland’s Eighth Grade Ancient History class.  Having just completed a unit on ancient Egypt, Mr. Boland expressed an interest in possibly having an IR Fellow visit his classroom to teach a class on contemporary political events in Egypt.  Jessica immediately jumped on the opportunity and ran with it.  As Mr. Boland later remarked, “Jessica was brilliant.  She was organized, prepared, articulate, intellectual, and the overall quality of her presentation was far beyond her years.  I was deeply moved by the whole experience, not only by Jessica‘s stellar performance, but also by the captivating effect her presence and instruction had on the students.”

As a result of Jessica’s hard work, the IR Fellows plan to substantially expand our intra-NA educational outreach role in coming years.  It is also interesting to note how many students cited their having been present for Jessica’s class as a reason why they chose a few months later to apply to the IR Fellows program.

’16s Visit Ottawa, Canada, August 2013

From May 4th to May 7th the IRF ’16s took their first international trip to Ottawa, Canada.  The trip was chaperoned by Norfolk Academy faculty members David Rezelman, Bernie McMahon, and Lisa Marie Priddy.  Canada was at once familiar and different.  The friendship and shared values between the United States and Canada made for a fascinating demonstration that there is more than one way for a democracy to implement its foreign policy.  The IR Fellows came away from their visit to Canada especially with a sense of the vital differences between a parliamentary-style democracy and the American system.  Our access in Ottawa was increased tremendously by the extremely generous assistance provided by Howard Mains, Co-President of the Tactix Government Relations and Public Affairs firm.

Arrival in Ottawa (left to right).

Arrival in Ottawa.

Our first day in Canada we visited the Canadian War Museum.  Joining us was Renée Filiatrault, who had served with NATO forces in Afghanistan during the war.  She shared insights gathered from extensive experiences working with numerous NATO militaries, and even showed us where personal items of hers were on display in the museum!

Ms. Filiatrault with the '16s.

Ms. Filiatrault with the ’16s.

That evening we posed in front of the Canadian War Memorial (site of the later tragic terrorist murder of a Canadian honor guard soldier in October 2014).  Visible in the distance is the legendary Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.

The '17s in front of the Canadian War Memorial (with the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in the background).

The ’17s in front of the Canadian War Memorial (with the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in the background).

That evening we gathered in front of Parliament’s Centre Block to eat poutine and watch a patriotic Canadian laser-light show.  The poutine was a particular hit with the ’16s.

Centre Block lit up as part of the evening's patriotic display.

Centre Block lit up as part of the evening’s patriotic display.

The following morning we visited St. Patrick’s Basilica, which has served Ottawa’s Catholic community since 1875, which was followed by the ceremonial Changing of the Guard on Parliamentary Hill.

Mr. McMahon, Dr. Rezelman, and the '17s in front of St. Patrick's Basilica.

Mr. McMahon, Dr. Rezelman, and the ’17s in front of St. Patrick’s Basilica.

Thomas Ferguson and Pablo Vazquez observe the Changing of the Guard.

Thomas Ferguson and Pablo Vazquez observe the Changing of the Guard.

Sophie Kidd, Jessica Williams, and Hannah Wheaton observe the Changing of the Guard.

Sophie Kidd, Jessica Williams, and Hannah Wheaton observe the Changing of the Guard.

This was followed by a cruise on the Ottawa River and a tour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (adding, in the process, Quebec to our list of provinces visited).

A view of the back of Parliament Hill from the Ottawa River.

A view of the back of Parliament Hill from the Ottawa River.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization (from the Ottawa River).

The Canadian Museum of Civilization (from the Ottawa River).

Born as they were in the late 1990s, the students were especially fascinated by the recreation of an actual airport terminal from the 1970s (complete with rotary phones!).  The chaperones had to explain how the phones worked.

1970s historical artifacts.

1970s historical artifacts.

The following morning was spent in a series of meetings with government officials within the heart of Canada’s Parliament: Centre Block.  Through the good offices of Mr. Mains, joining us were Ms. Jolène Savoie, who compared the Canadian and American legislative systems; Mr. Steven Chaplin, the Principal Parliamentary Counsel; Mr. Jeremy LeBlanc, who works for the U.S.-Canadian Interparliamentary Group; and conversations with two student pages (Karen Yao and David Gakwerere).

The '16s in a meeting in Centre Block.

The ’16s in a meeting in Centre Block.

Following these meetings, we were treated to a VIP tour of Centre Block.  We had to wait for the “regular” tour to pass before our VIP guide would permit each student to take his or her turn in the Speaker’s Chair.

Everyone behind the Speaker's Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.

Everyone behind the Speaker’s Chair in the Canadian House of Commons.

After a delightful outdoor lunch overlooking the Ottawa River, we visited Ms. Allison Abraszko and several of her Foreign Service Officer colleagues at the U.S. Embassy.  It was fascinating to hear the of the unique challenges posed to U.S. diplomats posted to a nation with such close ties to the United States.  Following our embassy visit, we were given a VIP tour of the Canadian Supreme Court, where we experienced, among other things, a mock trial in one of the main federal Canadian appeals courtrooms.

The highlight of the day, however, was when Mr. Mains hosted us for dinner.  Seeing famous buildings and meeting influential individuals is a treat, no doubt, but the most important opportunities are always those where we get to build personal relationships and exchange views in a relaxed, private environment.

The following morning began with a visit at Tactix Headquarters with Mr. Shimon Fogel of The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

The '16s meeting at Tactix Headquarters with Shimon Fogel of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

The ’16s meeting at Tactix Headquarters with Shimon Fogel of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

This was followed by meetings with journalists at two Ottawa newspapers.  At The Hill Times, a small insider politics publication, we met with its publisher, Ms. Anne Marie Creskey.  This was followed by a meeting with Mr. Barrie McKenna, an economics correspondent at one of Canada’s largest newspapers: The Globe and Mail.  While there we also paid a visit to the Ottawa headquarters and on-air studio for Canadian Television (CTV).

Everyone seated at the Canadian Television news desk (with Centre Block as its backdrop).

Everyone seated at the Canadian Television news desk (with Centre Block as its backdrop).

Our visit to Canada concluded with a visit to “the Canadian Pentagon.”  At the headquarters of the Department of National Defence we visited with Ms. Sarah Lichty, a Policy Officer in the Western Hemisphere Policy Directorate.  We were treated to a fascinating discussion of the history of U.S.-Canadian military cooperation, a subject of special interest to Dr. Rezelman dating back to his graduate school research on joint U.S.-Canadian “continental defense” of North American from Soviet nuclear attack during the 1950s.

After four days we were exhausted, but we were also left with an even greater appreciation of the critical role Canada plays as an international partner, and (according to polling data) as America’s best friend.

canada-usa-flag-skydiver

’17s Visit Washington, July-August 2013

From July 28th to August 2nd the newest cohort of Fellows, the IRF ’17s, took an insider’s tour of the Washington foreign policy establishment.  Chaperoning were IRF Director David Rezelman, Bernie McMahon, and Lisa Marie Priddy.  On Monday the 29th, our first meeting was with former State Department Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Agency for International Development contractor, and U.S. Congressman Glenn Nye.  The ’17s wide-ranging discussion with Nye set the stage for the week that was to follow.

Glenn Nye in a conference room at Palantir Technologies overlooking the U.S. Capitol.

Glenn Nye in a conference room at Palantir Technologies overlooking the U.S. Capitol.

That afternoon we visited the non-governmental organization (NGO) Project Hope.  In their words, “Project HOPE delivers essential medicines and supplies, health expertise and medical training to respond to disaster, prevent disease, promote wellness and save lives around the globe.”  The IR Fellows met with several senior officials of the organization, including President John Howe.  Dinner that night was genuine Virginia Chinese “hot pot” cuisine at the Mala Tang restaurant.

'17s Alix Galumbeck, Jaden Baum, and Hallie Griffiths, at Mala Tang.

’17s Alix Galumbeck, Jaden Baum, and Hallie Griffiths, at Mala Tang.

The following morning we took public tours of the Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The IRFs '17s with Ms. Priddy in front of the U.S. Capitol.

The IRFs ’17s with Ms. Priddy in front of the U.S. Capitol.

The '17s in front of the statue of John Marshall at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ’17s in front of the statue of John Marshall at the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was followed by an afternoon exploration of the Sackler and Freer National Museum of Asian Art.  After a period for detailed examination, each Fellow presented to the rest of the group what they believed were the most important aspects of their section of the collection.

Some intellectual heavy-lifting at the Sackler Freer Gallery.

Some intellectual heavy-lifting at the Sackler Freer Gallery.

After that, we initiated the ’17 tradition of rising at least one carousel during each of our trips (in this case on the Washington Mall).

Luke Cromwell barely hanging on.

Luke Cromwell barely hanging on.

Tuesday evening concluded with a visit to the Netherlands Carillon and Arlington National Cemetery.  The following morning we visited the main offices of the Washington Post to meet with one of its reporters: Greg Jaffe.  In the afternoon we toured of the old headquarters of the American Red Cross, followed by a visit to their state-of-the-art Disaster Operations Center.

The group outside the American Red Cross's Disaster Operations Center.

The group outside the American Red Cross’s Disaster Operations Center.

Thursday morning we visited with several employees and volunteers at the national Peace Corps headquarters.  Our visit to the Peace Corps was one of the absolute highlights of the numerous meetings during our week in Washington.  The students were blown away by the depth of immersion Peace Corps volunteers achieve in other cultures, and more than one afterwards expressed in interest in one day serving in the Peace Corps themselves!  In the afternoon we met with several senior employees at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a little-known U.S. Government foreign aid agency.  Dinner that evening was at the venerable Old Europe restaurant.

Chris Kazakis and Alix Galumbeck at Old Europe.

Chris Kazakis and Alix Galumbeck at Old Europe.

We spent the morning of our last day in Washington visiting Stacy Mitchell, a senior attorney at the Department of Justice.  Our trip was capped off by a visit to the home of a former senior official in the Intelligence Community.

The best parts of the whole trip, however, were the evening conversations when we would reflect on the previous day and preview the next.  We began the trip as three teachers and six students.  By the end, we were a cohesive group.

The IRF '17s (left to right): Chris Kazakis, Alix Galumbeck, Jaden Baum, Albert Einstein, Nico Moscoso, Hallie Griffiths, and Luke Cromwell.

The IRF ’17s (left to right): Chris Kazakis, Alix Galumbeck, Jaden Baum, Albert Einstein, Nico Moscoso, Hallie Griffiths, and Luke Cromwell.