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Archive for May 2011

Visiting associate professor Thomas Farr wrote for the National Review's online community The Corner that the U.S. needs to do more to do more to emphasize religious freedom in foreign policy.

Religious freedom should be at the heart of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Both history and modern scholarship make it clear that highly religious societies cannot attain stable, lasting democracy without religious freedom in full — the set of institutions and habits that guarantee equality under the law for all religious actors and a sustainable balance between religion and state.

Farr was reacting to President Obama's address on the Arab Spring.

Read more.

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The thousands of GU students who graduated last week are looking back on their time at the Hilltop.  One who wrote about his experiences is Carlos Reyes.  In an essay for The Hoya, Georgetown's student newspaper of record, Reyes recalled that numerous interests competed for his time and attention; finding balance was, for him, key to getting the most out of Georgetown.

I was incredibly lucky when, in July 2008, I was elected to the board of an international nonprofit organization that exposed me even more to the world, specifically through diplomacy. It was the perfect commitment to complement my School of Foreign Service education.

However, all of my off-campus commitments distracted me from my coursework. It seems most of us at Georgetown make this calculation to balance school and outside activities.

The challenge, however, is in finding the appropriate equilibrium. I did not fully gain a handle of my time until junior year. This is when I decided to re-engage myself at Georgetown. A deliberate shift was necessary in my life. Before I knew it, I had become exactly what I did not want to be. I was over-committed and living a life outside of Georgetown. My schedule was filled with endless meetings. Simply put, I was not happy. I was not enjoying my time on the Hilltop and was missing out on formative experiences.

If my first two years as a Georgetown student were characterized by my time off campus, my last two years have been about embracing everything about Georgetown.

Carlos' essay is a must-read for prospective SFS students!

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SFS Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy Andrew Natsios writes for Foreign Affairs that the North's invasion of the town of Abyei could derail the peace process in Sudan.

The UN has not yet announced civilian casualty figures, but already the bombing has displaced 15,000 Ngok Dinka inhabitants, who are now moving south for protection. Arab tribes appear to be moving in to occupy the area. For centuries, Abyei had been the homeland of the Dinkas, the dominant tribe in southern Sudan. But in the 1980s and 1990s, local Arab tribes drove them from the region in a campaign of brutal ethnic cleansing directed by the government in Khartoum. The Dinkas make up 40 percent of the south's population and represent a powerful part of both the south's government and its army. They demand the return of Abyei to the south.

Read more at the Foreign Affairs website.

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This spring’s two installments of the Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series (MJDARTS) focused on establishing non-profits and working on Capitol Hill.

Learning from Each Other

On February 28, “Forming Your Own Non-profit” featured three SFS alumni: Jess Rimington, executive director of the One World Youth Project; Indra Sen, executive director and co-founder of Inspire Dreams; and Osman Ashai, engagement manager at Ashoka and co-founder of Kashmir Corps. Each speaker has balanced or is currently juggling full-time school or a job with running a non-profit.

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“The time commitment is definitely needed. If the motivation and the energy is there, you’ll find it’s doable,” Ashai said. He added that nights and weekends become busy.

All of the speakers advised to find something that makes students passionate. Sen, whose organization Inspire Dreams provides academic, athletic and arts-based education programs to young Palestinian refugees, said to consider whether there’s a real need for something in society and not just to consider future scholarships or accolades.

Ashai emphasized forming partnerships and delivering on those partnerships. “It’s a very collaborative industry. There are a lot of young folks who are starting NGOs,” he said.  He said that people are willing to share best practices and intellectual property more than in the private sector because they’re all just starting out. He advised students to take advantage of that but to do their part and help others, as well.

Rimington, whose organization One World Youth Project helps classrooms connect around the world to build global literacy, agreed that networking is key.

“One thing I tried to do was meet with ten people a week and tell them the story,” she said about making connections.  “It’s about being intentional with each step.”

Networking, Networking, Networking

On March 28, “Working on Capitol Hill” featured Lauryn Bruck (F ’08) and Brent Woolfork (G ’08/MSFS), currently working  as staff members of the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee respectively.

Bruck encouraged people to get internships and to keep up conversations with people who are from the same state and are affiliated with the same party as they are.  She stressed following up with contacts that students make through Georgetown.  She noted that she completed six internships during her undergraduate years.

Bruck is currently working on her master’s degree and told students that working on the Hill offers a lot of opportunity for education. “SFS really adequately prepared me both for the stress of my job and also for my graduate degree,” she said.

Woolfork said that he felt comfortable at interviews after going through the MSFS orals process. When asked about turnover in jobs on the Hill, he advised, “Always just keep an ear to the ground to see what’s happening in other offices.”  He also stressed that going to events, networking and staying active in events on the Hill can help keep options open in the worst-case scenario.

“Just get on peoples’ radar. Even if they don’t have a position, if they get on in the near future, they’ll remember you,” Bruck said.

Remembering Michael Jurist

The Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series is named in memory of Michael Jurist (F ’07). It is designed to expose School of Foreign Service undergraduates to the rich and varied accomplishments of SFS alumni who return to campus in an informal, roundtable setting to speak about where their degree has taken them and their personal experiences as well as the successes and challenges they have faced since graduation.

Jen Lennon | May 2011

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Jordan Denari, a sophomore at Georgetown University spoke about the death of Osama bin Laden and the Muslim Living-Learning Community she lives in on campus, which includes 24 Christian and Muslim students.

Read more about Jordan and her friends' reactions to the news about bin Laden.

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A panel of experts convened at Georgetown last night to talk about the United States’ involvement in the Middle East and the future of Muslim-Western relations after the "Arab Spring" revolutions.

Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU) and the British Council sponsored the event, called “Deconstructing the ‘Clash of Civilizations’: Towards a New Paradigm.”

The panel included CMCU founding director John Esposito and a number of others knowledgeable in the field.

Panelist Mohamed Younis, a senior analyst at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, drew parallels between the Arab Spring revolts and the United States’ own political history.

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Gerd Nonneman, a professor of international relations and Middle East politics at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, will begin serving as the new dean of the School of Foreign Service in Qatar in September.

Nonneman will join the Georgetown community in Doha’s Education City after his service at Exeter, where he is also the Al-Qasimi Professor of Gulf Studies and director of the Centre for Gulf Studies.

Georgetown selected him after a comprehensive international search.

Read more about Gerd Nonneman.

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Rebecca Lindgren of Pottstown, Pa., had accepted the fact that her father – U.S. Navy Commander Robert Lindgren – wouldn’t be at her graduation ceremony May 21 from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service because he was stationed in Afghanistan.

So she was thrilled and surprised when she saw her father in uniform on the sidewalk just after her name was called to receive her diploma on stage in front of historic Healy Hall.

Read more about the surprise visit at this year's Commencement.

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Georgetown professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged more than 100 recipients of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) degree to make learning a lifelong endeavor, keynoting the program's awards ceremony as 2011 commencement activities continued on the Hilltop Friday night.

The key to wisdom is being open to new ideas; "those who believe they are in full possession of the truth can be dangerous," Albright said during an MSFS Tropaia event that proved a raucous celebration of achievements for students and hundreds of their family and friends in Gaston Hall.

Albright said that whether the issue is nuclear proliferation, food security or personal freedom, issues can look very different from one side of the world to the other.  "The challenge is to make them so we're not defined solely by our differences," she said.

Alumni honoree Ben Powell (G '00), founder of a nonprofit that invests in entrepreneurs in the developing world, told graduates to stay in touch with one another.  "There is enormous social capital in this room," said Powell, "and it can grow or diminish based on your actions.  Nurture it."

Student speaker Mahveen Azam said that in MSFS, she found what she had sought when she came to Georgetown from Pakistan to study international affairs.  "What truly makes this a great program is... great people who are seriously invested in each other's success," she said.

Honorees included 15 graduates who completed the MSFS oral examination with distinction.

Marco Schad, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and a 2003 MSFS and Law Center graduate delivered the benediction.

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Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla (G '89) spoke to nearly 400 undergraduates at the BSFS commencement ceremony on May 21.

“Values are living organisms,” she said. “They must be cared for in order to endure. They must be placed at the center of our lives.” The first female president of the Latin American country also talked about the importance free societies.

Read more about the graduation festivities.

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