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Family/Homecoming Weekend 2015: Our best ever!

Family/Homecoming Weekend 2015 was our best ever!

In addition to a successful launch of our $2 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate our Capitol Hill home (click here to read more about the campaign), we welcomed hundreds of graduates, family members, and friends for three packed days of extraordinary learning, fellowship, and fun.

After Friday evening informal gatherings, we started early Saturday morning with a model English class at the Johns Hopkins SAIS building.  Co-English teachers Maya Cohen and Noah Bopp put parents, friends, and board members through an interactive lesson on Act I, Scene II of Henry V.

After trying our hand at performing iambic pentameter, the hall quickly filled with over 100 guests for our traditional SEGL Fishbowl community discussion.  The Fishbowl is an opportunity for us to get to know different branches of the increasingly large SEGL community—to hear different personalities, different perspectives, and to meet the current semester of students.  With Ambassador Dan Mozena (Senior Coordinator on Boko Haram at the U.S. State Department) and Margot Shorey (‎Counter Boko Haram Policy Analyst at the State Department) on hand, we engaged in an extended, reflective, and engaging discussion in response to a challenging, real-life policymaking ethical dilemma.  Mozena and Shorey followed with extended remarks commenting on key points from the discussion.  (Mozena and Shorey were off the record, but hopefully they will permit us to share Mozena’s first word to the audience after the conversation was over: “WOW!”)

After the Fishbowl, our chef Susana Heureux treated us to an extraordinary buffet in honor of our 2015 Golden Mug Award winner, Ghaith al-Omari.  Each year, our graduates vote and present the Golden Mug to the speaker who has had the greatest impact on their lives. The award is named for the coffee mugs that our speakers receive at the end of their SEGL visits.  To read SEGL Director’s remarks introducing Mr. al-Omari, click here. Spring 2015 graduate Matan Arad-Neeman presented the award; after the standing ovation that followed, Mr. al-Omari shared a grateful and heartfelt speech with the packed crowd.

Next, former White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry joined us for a panel discussion on the upcoming Presidential election.  ABC reporter Ali Weinberg presided over a conversation that was both hilarious and poignant (it turns out that Bolten and McCurry were college classmates, so their chemistry was terrific).  The conversation was off-the-record, but the panelists remarks reinforced the benefit of SEGL’s nonpartisan pedagogical approach.

Next, we shifted to the SEGL Academic Building for our annual Social Venture Project Fair.  Half a dozen graduates set up displays of their successful capstone venture projects and dozens of guests stopped by each display to hear more and ask questions.  The Fair is particularly helpful to current students, who gain insight and inspiration for their projects.

That evening we trekked to the Folger Shakespeare Library (just across the street from the SEGL Residence) and its famous Paster Reading Room for the seventh annual SEGL Gala.  Friends reunited, bonds between semesters/summers strengthened, and we launched our capital campaign in style!  After remarks by  SEGL Board Chair Dudley Lacy, SEGL Founder and Director Noah Bopp, and graduates Hutton Phillips and Maia Berlow (who announced that over 60% of SEGL graduates have already given to the campaign), guests were treated to an extraordinary performance of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.  Fall 2014 graduate Lauren Hunt made a captivating Henry, and throughout the speech dozens of graduates (who were required to memorize the speech for SEGL’s English class) joined in to echo her delivery of the lines.

On Sunday morning, Noah Bopp and Dudley Lacy led the annual State of the School discussion, in which community stakeholders offer advice and comment on SEGL’s top priorities.  And then, with hugs and tears, the weekend was over.

We’re already looking forward to next year.

And remember: for more information about the capital campaign, click here!

Oct 19, 2015

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