A 10th Anniversary Celebration for the Ages
What a way to celebrate a decade! Last weekend over 300 strong converged on Washington, DC to honor SEGL’s first ten years and to look toward the future. Along the way, they heard a Congressman weigh in on impeachment, asked questions of a former UN Ambassador, honored a former White House official, and packed a rooftop overlooking the U.S. Capitol on a perfect fall night.
The weekend began at the Rayburn House Office Building with a welcome reception attended by graduates, family members, current and former faculty members and trustees, and friends. The marble columns provided a fitting backdrop: just two weeks earlier a few steps away, Acting Director of National Intelligence had testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee (our students were in attendance!).
The next morning over 60 family members and friends packed into the Simon Conference Room at the United States Institute of Peace to participate in a model English class led by Academic Dean and English teacher Christian Starling. The class (a version of an actual SEGL lesson plan) included thoughtful discussion, Shakespeare’s Henry V, tennis balls, and some impromptu acting! Starling also took time to explain several of SEGL’s classic pedagogical principles and techniques.
Next, over 100 guests moved into USIP’s Carlucci Auditorium for an SEGL tradition: the community Fishbowl discussion. After introductions from Director of Graduate Affairs Robbie Ross and Spring 2019 graduate Nuurasuu Tufaa, groups of SEGL community members talked through a timely ethical quandary: should Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) have supported the current impeachment inquiry in late September when the whistle-blower accusations first went public? Congressman Phillips (who is on one of the Committees currently investigating the President’s conduct) was on hand to listen, and, after the Fishbowl concluded, offered 30 minutes of remarks that specifically responded to what he had heard. He stayed for lunch afterwards, answering many eager follow-up questions.
After lunch it was time to honor Fernando Cutz, the 2019 Golden Mug Award winner. SEGL’s graduate community awards the Golden Mug each year to the guest expert graduates believe had had the biggest positive effect on their lives. Cutz has been a fixture at SEGL in recent semesters, telling ethical tales not only from his time at the National Security Council in the Obama and Trump Administrations, but from earlier in his life. Courtenay White (Fall 2018) delivered a rousing tribute in her introduction of Cutz, who followed with a thoughtful acceptance speech about optimism in the face of international challenge. (Special guest Egil “Bud” Krogh, SEGL’s first Golden Mug Award honoree, was in the audience!)
Then it was time for a group photo and informal conversation before the rapidly swelling crowd returned to Carlucci Auditorium for a keynote conversation. Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power, author of the recent bestseller The Education of an Idealist, was our guest. With Fall 2018 graduate Muniyat Choudhury as our moderator, the audience enjoyed over 90 minutes of insightful, poignant, and at times humorous Q and A with Power. The standing-room-only conversation was wide-ranging but always on topic, and Power left to a standing ovation (and took several “selfie” photographs that will not soon be forgotten!).
Several hours later our guests ascended to the 10th floor Observatory at America’s Square rooftop for a convivial, inspiring evening Gala. On a perfect fall night, with a DJ spinning, beautiful flower arrangements, and terrific food, hundreds of graduates, current and former teachers and trustees, guest speakers, and friends celebrated our first ten years and, as SEGL Founder and Head of School Noah Bopp exhorted, gathered strength to impact the future.
On Sunday morning, the majority of the SEGL board of trustees joined Bopp and SEGL in South Africa Director Mairéad O’Grady for a compelling State of the School conversation. What has SEGL accomplished in recent years, and what key questions might define its next long-range planning process? How is planning for next semester’s SEGL at ALA program progressing? Dozens of guests weighed in before bidding each other farewell until next year.
Until next year, indeed! We are already planning something memorable and meaningful. See you October 16-18, 2020!