Written by Pat DiFrancesco, Program Advisor – Institute on Economics and International Affairs

Mitchell, BrycePursuing a degree in International History with a focus in Africa and the Middle East, Bryce Mitchell aspires to represent the United States as a Defense Attaché in one of its numerous embassies across the globe.  As a current student at The United States Air Force Academy and the Institute on Economics and International Affairs, he is preparing himself to accomplish this and so much more.

At the academy, Bryce is a hurdler on the track team and serves as one of the cadets in charge of international programs. In this position, he acts as a liaison for fellow cadets and incoming students looking to study abroad and explore international issues. “My environment at the academy is really structured. I have a busy schedule, but I appreciate every moment.”

Being accustomed to his schedule at the academy, Bryce hasn’t had much trouble transitioning into the rigorous TFAS summer. “It’s one of the reasons I love this program,” Bryce said. “It helps you grow and allows you to take advantage of opportunities.”

This summer Bryce is interning at the Rumsfeld Foundation where he assists with all daily operations in the office. “One day I might be taking notes during one of our meetings with microfinance partners, the next day I could be accompanying Mr. Rumsfeld to one of his speaking events, the possibilities are endless.”

Bryce’s favorite moment during the summer thus far was an extensive conversation he had with Mr. Rumsfeld on a variety of topics. While sharing stories in Rumsfeld’s office, the two realized they even had some experiences in common. They both attended the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico as boy scouts. “He went in 1949, and I went in 2008,” Bryce said. “We even shared our experiences with all of the bears and rattlesnakes we encountered while there”.

After graduation, Bryce plans to continue studying international issues related to Africa and the Middle East at either The George Washington University or the University of Calgary. “After getting my masters, I intend to enter flight school and hopefully fly a fighter jet like the A-10 Warthog or the F-35 Lightning if they ever finish it,” he said. “After flying for a few years, I can then focus on my career at a United States embassy.”


Written by Sarah Meirose, Program Advisor – Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

RebekkahRecent Portland State University graduate Rebekkah Brainerd’s first summer in DC has proven to be one full of new experiences and new friends. While living in the nation’s capital, she has found the city is full of amazing people, architecture and cultural diversity. She has also recognized a sense of community through her internship and home environments, an element that has positively impacted her summer. The former political science major is interning at Children’s Environmental Health Network.

Her TFAS internship has been a great experience thus far. “There’s this really relaxed, community atmosphere in the office. It feels like everyone is really working together, almost like a little family.” While the majority of her duties in the office are comprised of administrative work, “Our supervisors are always asking us what we want to work on, what experiences we want to gain, etc. They’re such kind hearted people, and it’s nice to see that side of DC when there is this big perception of power hungry individuals everywhere.”

Outside of work, Rebekkah enjoys interacting with other students she has met through TFAS. “My favorite thing overall is interacting with all of the amazing people here. Everyone is so incredible and smart, and I find myself almost daily engaging in these intense debates with people from all different perspectives.”

As an Oregon native, Rebekkah was surprised by various aspects of Washington in comparison to Portland. “DC is more driven and motivated; morning rush hour is really fascinating in how organized and synchronized it is!” Her favorite parts of the city include the artistic culture, cute shops and neat places to eat, specifically in Georgetown and Chinatown.

Already, Rebekkah realizes her professional growth as a result of her summer in DC through TFAS. “Each person has to make it their own… being in a place like this really fosters advancement as a person in figuring out one’s own self, perspective and mindset.”

DC on a Dime

Written by Pat DiFrancesco, Program Advisor – Institute on Economics and International Affairs

Here in Washington DC, it’s hard to believe the saying “the best things in life are free.” By the time you ride the metro into work, grab a coffee at Starbucks, buy lunch, ride the Metro home, and purchase groceries for dinner, you’ve spent a pretty penny.  To help keep the entertainment expenses down here are a few recommendations for free or cheap weekend activities

Smithsonian Museums:
The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, including the National Zoological Park. Explore the history of the United States at the National Museum of American History or view the original Constitution at the National Archives and Records Administration. All information about these experiences and more can be found here.

Theater and the Performing Arts:Kennedy-hi-res-708100
Located only a few blocks from Shenkman Hall, enjoy a free performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage every evening at 6 p.m. Acts include everything from performances by the National Symphony Orchestra to poetry slams.

Throughout the summer, you can head over to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium to see various free shows. The GW Orchestra concerts are free and open to the public. You might even catch a live performance by the United States Air Force Band’s Jazz Ensemble.

Arts and Culture:
Tuesday through Friday, swing by the The Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art,  in Dupont Circle.  Visitors can view pieces by Renoir and Rothko, Bonnard and O’Keeffe, van Gogh and Diebenkorn along with many other stunning impressionist and modern works. Access to the permanent collection is free of charge.

You can also follow Georgetown’s cobblestone streets to the Old Stone House, DC’s last pre-Revolutionary building standing on its original foundation.

Dining: As Close to “free” as you can get!
The handwritten sign above the register at Ben’s Chili Bowl claims Bill Cosby and Barack Obama are the only customers who can eat for free. However, you can grab a rather inexpensive meal at this city signature.

For something sweet, check out the DC cupcake scene. Visit Baked & Wired in Georgetown to get handcrafted espressos and delicious deserts made from family recipes.  Get a full list of choices by visiting their website.

It doesn’t take a full wallet to have fun in Washington. With an open mind and an appetite for adventure you never know where you might end up in the nation’s capital.

Written by Kristin Underwood, Program Advisor - Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

We are in our nation’s capital for our nation’s birthday! This year’s fireworks not only celebrate Independence Day, but they also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.  You can’t go wrong with whatever you chose to do on the fourth, but be sure to celebrate the 239th party the right way by preparing with these tips and tricks:fourthcrowd

Activities To Do on the Fourth:

It may sound impossible, but you really can do it all (or most of it) on the fourth, you just have to plan ahead.

Honor our Founding Fathers:
Wake up early and walk to the Memorial of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence before the festivities begin. The memorial is located in Constitution Gardens across the footbridge to Signers Island on the National Mall. The Mall opens at 10:00am. Try your best to sneak a peak of the signatures of our Founding Fathers’ on Independence Day before it gets too crowded. If you don’t mind waiting in line, stop by the National Archives to view the Declaration of Independence, exactly 239 years after it was first signed. The Rotunda is open from 10:00am to 5:30pm.

Celebrate International Cultures:
In the midst of the patriotic festivities, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will still be going on. Weave through the tents to experience the cultures of Kenya and China firsthand.

Watch the Independence Day Parade on Constitution Ave.:
The parade kicks off at 11:45am at the intersection of 7th and Constitution. The parade features celebrities, marching bands, war heroes and more! Stay until the end or leave a bit early to head over to the Capitol lawn to grab a spot for the evening concert

Watch “A Capitol Fourth” preformed on the Capitol lawn:
Gates open at 3:00pm, so head over early to find the best viewing spot.  Performers include Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips, Patti Labelle and more. The concert begins at 8:00pm and will be broadcast live on PBS.fireworks2

See the fireworks launch on the National Mall:
The fireworks begin immediately after the last concert act (around 9:15) and are viewable from the lawn. If you are anywhere on the lawn you’ll have great seats, especially if you have a good view of the Washington Monument. Check out this list of the best places to see the fireworks.

Tips from the Pros:

  • Don’t buy a flag at the parade they’ll give them out for free at the concert!
  • Have at least one person in your group go without a bag. There is a “bag free” line to get into the Capitol lawn and it is always much shorter. Your designated group member can head in and steak out a spot.
  • Pack your lunch-picnic style for fun on the lawn rather than overpaying for concessions.
  • Water, water, water! Although Friday will be the coolest day of the week (forecasted in the lower 80s), there will be an estimated 700,000 people on the mall, and that many bodies in one area, with likely no shade, can add up to overheating and dehydration. The city will most likely have water bottle refill stations on the mall so keep your bottles and reuse them.
  • Remove all weapons and alcohol from your bags. Security personnel will search through your bags, so don’t try to sneak anything in. Here is a complete list of things NOT to bring.
  • If you are going to the concert early and want to save seats, have your friends all go together because they stamp hands and close off the first section for safety precautions to guests arriving late. You can take turns holding spots once you are all stamped in.
  • Pay attention to the security checkpoints and metro schedule in order to plan your best route accordingly.

Follow these tips to ensure you have a safe and happy fourth!


Written by Joel Troutman, Program Advisor- Institute on Business and Government Affairs

Jay KimHailing from Seoul, South Korea, Jay Kim graduated from Emory University with a degree in Economics. This summer he has the amazing opportunity to expand his knowledge and skills as an intern with NASDAQ.

Because Jay changed his major from Biology to Economics midway through his junior year, finding an internship in this completely new field was a bit of a struggle, particularly with the added pressure of just having graduating college.

In discussing how Jay found his way to Washington, DC, he said, “Then I found out about the TFAS program, which provides the combination of both academically competitive summer courses and guaranteed internship placement.”

Through TFAS, Jay is now interning at NASDAQ OMX group in their government relations team. “I was once a college graduate without any work experience, then all of sudden I am attending congressional hearings about economic regulations, listening to speeches delivered by Senator John McCain and Thomas Farley, president of NYSE Group, and many more. To me, it is as if I won a lottery in terms of job hunting.”

Jay is eager to apply his many disciplines and skills that he’s learned through school and his time in the Republic of Korea Navy. A friendly and outgoing person, Jay is excited to be here in DC for the summer. He said that TFAS helped him “realize that you are never late for anything” and that “TFAS gave him the chance to gain valuable work experience even after graduation.”

As a people person, Washington, DC appealed to him as an amazing place to network with other young professionals and as a wonderful launching place for his career. “Now I can utilize this experience to further my opportunities in a very competitive job market.” With so much history, art, culture, food (possibly the best cupcakes in the world), and diversity here in the heart of the nation, Jay’s summer in DC will be one he will never forget.

Weekend Getaways

Written by Sarah Meirose, Program Advisor- Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems

Despite the excitement of living in DC, you may find yourself feeling like you need a break from the fast-paced city environment. What sounds more ideal than a day trip or weekend away? As luck would have it, there are a variety of destinations for students looking to travel either by train, bus or metro.

Day Trips

  • AlexandriaAlexandria
    Old Town Alexandria offers an array of retail stores and restaurants, a weekly farmer’s market and spectacular views of the waterfront. The area’s deep historical roots cater to history buffs, as one can visit the Lyceum (the town’s history museum), the Carlyle House and the Torpedo Factory Art Center. If you prefer to visit later in the evening, you can take a ghost and graveyard tour or sign up for a Haunted Dine Around. Alexandria’s Old Town neighborhood is easily accessible by metro via the King Street stop on the blue and yellow lines. The King Street Trolley provides free transportation from the metro stop and departs every 15 minutes.
  • Mount VernonmT. v
    Just 16 miles south of DC, George Washington’s estate offers an ideal day trip destination. Guests can explore the mansion, more than a dozen original structures, Washington’s Tomb and the 50 miles of the extensive plantation. As it is not easily accessible by public transportation, TFAS is offering students the opportunity to visit the estate on June 29, and tickets are still available for $30.

Weekend Trips

  • New York City
    Hoping to catch a Broadway show or take in the NYC skyline this summer? A bus trip from DC to NYC takes an average of four hours and costs about $25 to $50. Amtrak train tickets run anywhere from $125 to $259 round trip. Make sure to plan in advance!
  • BaltimoreBaltimoreHarbor (2)
    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor features a variety of shops, restaurants, and museums. Visit the black tip reef shark exhibit at the National Aquarium or take in the city’s history at Ft. McHenry. You can travel to Baltimore via bus or train. The MARC train departs DC from Union Station and takes you to the Baltimore/Camden station. A standard one way fare is $7.
  • Philadelphia
    Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and an authentic Philly cheese steak sandwich await your visit to Philadelphia. The city boasts an array of museums including the Benjamin Franklin museum, the National Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell center. Spend the weekend visiting historical sites, shopping and catching Phillies game.  The Megabus departs four times a day from Union Station and fares cost anywhere from $13-$30.

No matter how far you go, you’ll find that DC is the center of it all.


Celebrate DC Life

Written by Kristin Underwood, Program Advisor - Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service

screen on the greenThere is always something to celebrate in our nation’s capital. If interning, networking and developing your professional future isn’t enough to throw your own celebration, start here to learn about the best festivals and events for the 2014 summer season. Whether you enjoy an evening listening to poetry or a lively day celebrating arts and culture, DC has something for you.

  • Smithsonian Folklife Fest
    For one week in June and July, the National Mall is blanked with white tents filled with vendors, historians and culture enthusiast for the Smithsonian Folklife Fest. This year the festival is celebrating the cultures of Kenya and China. Both countries will host simultaneous events with craft shows, dancing, storytelling and more! The event is free to the public, but food and souvenirs from The Marketplace will cost you. Be sure to stop by long enough to appreciate each country’s rich history and culture, starting with the opening ceremonies on Wednesday June 25 at 11 am. The festival dates are June 25-29 and July 2-6.
  • Independence Day
    As someone who chose to live, learn and intern in the nation’s capital, we suspect some of you have a bit of pride for our country. We know you must be pumped to spend Flag Day AND Independence Day in Washington, DC.
    Missed the Flag Day celebration? The fourth of July is sure to be a blast as well. Watch the parade, listen to the concert and wave the American flag as we celebrate the independence of our great nation. Look out for our post later for the guide to a successful Independence Day in Washington, D.C.
  • Screen on the Greens
    DC hosts a variety of outdoor movie showings in many neighborhoods around the city. You almost can’t go one full day without an opportunity to watch a free outdoor movie with your friends. Grab a blanket and a picnic dinner and you are set for the evening!
  • Jazz
    You don’t have to travel to the Big Easy to hear good jazz tunes. DC hosts multiple occasions for tourists and residents to enjoy jazz music. From soul to swing, there is something for everyone. From June 24-29, the 10th annual DC Jazz Festival puts on more than 100 performances throughout the metro area in just one week. Can’t get enough? Jazz never really stops in the district. Each Friday, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden hosts “Jazz in the Garden.” Come early and grab a seat by the fountain to enjoy local DC artists as well as famed travelers.
  • National Capital Barbecue Battle
    The National Capital Barbecue Festival hosted by Safeway is one of the largest and most entertaining BBQ competitions in the U.S. From June 21-22 stop by Pennsylvania Ave. for authentic BBQ, music, cooking demonstrations and more. Guests who arrive early have the chance to win free giveaways and celebrity encounters. A $12 ticket purchased in advance gets you access to taste tests and endless fun! Proceeds from the Battle benefit The Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC.
  • Food Trucks
    A wise man once said, “It’s not a real food truck festival unless they have Korean BBQ.” In the midst of your busy summer, don’t forget to stop and eat at one of DC’s famous food trucks. Farragut Square and Half Street, “Food Truck Fridays” and “Truckeroo” are just two of the food truck celebrations in DC. Follow the food truck fiesta app to search the nearest meals on wheels!

Stay focused on your classes and internships this summer, but don’t forget to take a break every so often to spend time immersing yourself in the new, exciting festivals and events DC has to offer.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers

%d bloggers like this: