Guest Blogger Andrew Powaleny is an Executive Assistant at Haake and Associates in Washington, DC. He participated in TFAS’s Institute on Political Journalism in 2008 where he interned with Talk Radio News Service.
It would not be a stretch in any way to say that The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) changed my life. In the fall of 2007, I told my advisor at Eastern Connecticut State University that I wanted to go to Washington, D.C. for a summer internship. My advisor tossed a few ideas back and forth but it wasn’t until she mentioned TFAS that I truly believed that I could actually get to D.C. All of the other programs were very expensive; they placed a monumental status on academics and did not include learning experiences such as internships beyond the classroom. Making things easy for me was the TFAS staff who reassured my nerves, worked with me to help pay for the program and placed me with an internship that fit my wants and needs.
Upon arriving at Henle Village on the campus of Georgetown University, I was filled with excitement and a nervous energy that allowed me to break out of my shell. Gone was the Andrew of past who wouldn’t talk or meet new people; in TFAS you have to meet new people because, quite frankly, you don’t know anyone. My roommates and I all bonded over the experience; we had people over all the time and even enjoyed tasks as simple as going to the grocery store together.
Within the first week, I was in love with D.C. and I was intoxicated with TFAS–what it stood for and what it meant to be apart of the program. As a member of the Institute on Political Journalism I was assigned to intern at the Talk Radio News Service (TRNS). While interning, I covered Capitol Hill, interviewed Senate and House members, covered think tanks and did a special report on HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia, which was broadcasted online. My internship facilitated by TFAS allowed me to make new connections as well as experience D.C. in a way that most only dream about.
TFAS invested heavily in its professors, who taught me more in one summer than I had learned in three years at my university back home. They engaged their students, forcing us to think critically and pushing us to work very hard and stay focused for three hours each and every night. Lecturers came in and spoke on the subjects of economics, religion, journalism, ethics and political thought. Many times, others and I would disagree with these lecturers but it allowed us the chance to hear new ideas and think differently about an issue.
The hardest part of TFAS was, when out of nowhere, it was all over. Saying goodbye to my internship, friends and the community which had welcomed me with open arms was the most difficult realization I had to make that summer. Fortunately, TFAS continues to live on with me and the thousands of others that have experienced the program. After I graduated from Eastern Connecticut, I moved back to Washington, D.C. and live with another 2008 TFAS student. Scores of other alumni have done the same and TFAS invests heavily on keeping its alumni engaged throughout the year.
One truly could write a book on TFAS and all the good it does for not just its students but for the causes of freedom and human liberty world wide. TFAS is an invaluable program that connects people from around the world, builds relationships, spurs deep conversation and builds character. Any student considering interning in D.C. should look no further than TFAS. This organization has an opportunity and experience ready for everyone. Maybe it will change your life, too.