Education Program Alumni Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 1 World Affairs Council of Northern California Winter 2013
The Education Program of the World Affairs Council seeks to inform, educate and inspire the next generation of global leaders.
For over 60 years, the Education Program has provided students with a variety of opportunities and resources to broaden their
knowledge of international affairs. These students are a treasured part of the Council community.
Summer Institute 2013
Twenty-one students from across Northern
California took part in this year’s Summer Institute.
During the course of eight weeks, they discussed
topics as varied as climate change, Iran’s new
leader, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
unrest in Turkey and the ever-changing Middle
On August 7, the World Affairs Council hosted its
first Alumni Reunion. Attended by over 60 alumni,
current students and staff, the event was a great
success! Students came to the Council to reconnect
with old friends and make new ones. The event also
marked the last day of the Summer Institute, which
was a great way for our newest alumni to connect
with and meet their Council community. Students
who had not seen each other for years reconnected
and caught up on life, college and potential career
plans. Alumni spanned from 2006 to the Summer
Institute participants who had just finished up that
For those unfamiliar with the Summer Institute,
each meeting focuses on a specific topic of
international importance. After doing an
educational and interactive activity, the students
will meet with the evening’s speaker and attend
the Council program. One of our favorite
speakers this summer was Jeff Collins, senior
counsel at Chevron, who told us about his life
around the world in the Foreign Service and what
it was like to work in the White House for
President Obama. The students enjoyed meeting
Mr. Collins so much that he returned to serve as a
mentor for this year’s International Career Mentor
Night. (continued on next page)
“As an alumna, I was ecstatic to catch up with old
friends, meet students from other programs and find
out where Education Program alumni end up. Being
part of the Education Program is not only about
completing a program, but also how you translate the
experience into the rest of your life.”
-Monica Floyd, American University
The evening featured a reception, raffle and a
keynote address from one our distinguished alumni,
Dr. Sophal Ear. During his talk, Dr. Ear, who
attended the Asilomar Conference in 1994 and
1996, spoke about his experience escaping
Cambodia as a child and how the World Affairs
Council helped shape his professional career.
IN THIS ISSUE
Ways to Connect
Student Ambassador Program
(continued on next page)
Alumni Reunion continued…
A common theme throughout his presentation was receiving help from good Samaritans. Whether it was the
kind strangers who aided his family en route to Vietnam or the upperclassmen at Berkeley High who helped
him choose the best English class, Dr. Ear highlighted the ripple effect that the kindness of others can create and
suggested we look inward to see how we can also act as good Samaritans.
The event created a great buzz among our alumni community who are now looking to stay even more
connected to the Council and participate in other alumni initiatives. Mark your calendars! Next year’s alumni
reunion is scheduled to take place on Thursday, August 7.
From left to right, (1) Nina Krishnan and Supriya Yelimeli of Mission San Jose High School catch up with one another (2)
Former Education Program Officer Michelle Capobres and Yuki Jiang (UC Berkeley) reconnect (3) Recent alumni Shireen Ahsan
of Gunn High School and Diana Jauregui of Oakland Unity High School meet with Dr. Sophal Ear
Summer Institute continued…
Additionally, Abbas Milani, Professor at Stanford University, shed light on the complexities and nuances of life in
Iran, even recommending some Iranian musicians for the students to listen to.
One of the timeliest sessions we had was on the Arab Spring. When the Education Program Officer began to
prepare the reading packet for students, Egypt was led by Mohmmed Morsi; however, Morsi had been deposed
by the time the students met. Being able to discuss and dissect an issue as it unfolded was beneficial as students
updated each other on the various news sources they follow and sought to understand this complex transition
“The Summer Institute truly engaged
me as a young mind, and changed my
perception on foreign policy. I will
forever be a World Affairs Council
member. Thank you for your
dedication and confidence towards
the next generation of intellectuals.
Mohammed Syed, California HS
Summer Institute students with Michael Brune, Executive Director
of the Sierra Club
Here is a glimpse at the many exciting things Education Program alumni are accomplishing:
Michael McFaul (Asilomar 1980s) is the current US ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Shibley Telhami (Asilomar 1980s) is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of
Maryland, College Park, and non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. His
recently published book “The World through Arab Eyes” focuses on the changing self-perception and identity of
people in the Arab world.
Sophal Ear (Asilomar 94, 98) is an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He
recently published the book “Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy.”
Alex Park (YFU 06) is an editorial fellow at Mother Jones Magazine. His interests and research focus on American
involvement in African agriculture. He also served as a mentor for this year’s International Career Mentor Night.
Olivia Wong (YFU 08) visited the Za'atari Refugee Camp at the Syrian/Jordanian border to deliver pre-fabricated
housing to Syrian refugees. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in San Diego. She is the director of
development at Youth and Leaders Living Actively (YALLA) San Diego, Inc. YALLA uses soccer and academics to
motivate child survivors of war and refugee youth to achieve a college education.
Michael Farzi (SI 08, WA 10, INT 12) is studying global public health at Manipal University in Southern India this
semester. Michael’s focus is the efficacy of national health programs for maternal and child health through
interviews of mothers and pregnant women. He intends to make it a comparative study with the health services
offered in France (where he will be studying next semester).
Monica Floyd (AMB 10-11, YFU 10, INT13) is studying abroad this semester at the National Chengchi University
in Taiwan. Next semester she plans to travel to Thailand and teach English.
Adrienne Ou (AMB 11-12, WA12) received the Wolfenstein Prize for her work in political theory. She is a
sophomore at UCLA, majoring in political science and classical civilization with a minor in global studies.
Jean Fan (AMB 11- 12, WA 12, AMB 12-13, WA 13) is the community manager at UnCollege. She is taking a gap
year before starting at Stanford University next fall.
Michael Montafi (INT 12) is a Peace Corps volunteer in Tovuz,
Nina Sawhney (INT 12-13) is studying for her master’s of public
administration degree at Columbia University’s School of
International and Public Affairs. She is concentrating on economic
and political development.
Asilomar- Asilomar Conference •
INT- Intern • SA- Student
• SI- Summer Institute •WAWorldAffairs Conference •
YFU- Youth For Understanding
Study Abroad Scholarship
Melina Dunham (WA 12) is taking a gap year before she begins
at Barnard College. During the summer and fall she learned
German in Berlin and traveled around Europe. Melina is currently interning at the Berkeley Center for Human
Daniela Leyva (WA 12) is a Panetta Institute Congressional intern in Washington, DC this semester.
Jessica Weiss (AMB 12-13, WA 13, SI 13) is a senior at Lowell High School. She founded Based News to translate
the top stories to a new medium that is engaging, entertaining and enlightening to young people.
Adela Jones (AMB 12-13, WA 13) is currently a junior at USC, where she is majoring in human security. She
completed a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Bristol this past summer as a part of the US-UK Fulbright
Summer Institute Programme. In addition to her studies, Adela rows for Southern California on the Varsity
Novice Rowing Team, serves on the International Relations Undergraduate Relations Executive Board and
founded the USC Roosevelt Institute Campus Chapter and Model Arab League Team.
Magdalena Fitipaldi‘s (WA 13) photograph “Pray” was featured in the World Affairs Council Annual Juried Art
Show, Global Visions. Another of her photos was also accepted into the Council’s Friends and Family
Photography exhibition which will open on December 4.
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Connect with the Education Program
Student Ambassador Updates
There are many ways to keep in touch with the Council.
We hope you will connect with us on social media!
World Affairs Council of Northern California
The 2013-2014 Student Ambassador Program
is comprised of 22 members who hail from all
over the Bay Area, making this group of
Ambassadors a dynamic and interesting mix of
people. All of our meetings focus around
international security, education, human rights
and nuclear proliferation. The students have
just started their global issue projects in which
they research a problem of global importance
and involve their local communities in action.
They will work on these projects over the
course of the school year. We are excited to
see how these initiatives develop! Look for
more information in our next issue.