Saturday, July 19, 2014

Goodbye and Good Luck to the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014!

Forty-six students came to the St. Albans School of Public Service this summer and made it a great experience for each other and for the SPS faculty and staff.  Whether they flew from half a world away or walked from half a block away, every member of the SPS Class of 2014 brought something unique to the class.  We will miss you, SPS '14 -- good luck and stay in touch!

SPS '14: Final Banquet

Aniya (Tennessee)
The St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014 marked the final evening at SPS with the SPS Final Banquet.  After a wonderful dinner, courtesy of the hard-working St. Albans/Sodexho staff, and some cake that was so good it was consumed before the intrepid photographer could get a shot of it, it was time for a longstanding SPS Final Banquet tradition: the SPS Class of 2014 spoke to each other about their time at the program and what it meant to them.  Our international students (Dominik, Charlton, John, and Rebecca) all spoke about what the program meant to them and how much they'd learned about the United States, most of all from their American SPS classmates.  One of our "locals," Ben, who is a DC native and attends St. Albans School, thanked the program and his classmates for helping him really discover Washington, D.C., which before he might have taken for granted.  Ultimately, the prevailing sentiments were well-expressed by Oliver, who said that he "never expected to find 45 other people my age who love what I love but don't all agree with me."  (Patton also caught the will of the class when he stated that everyone in SPS '14 wished that Mr. Eagles were their grandfather.)
John (Seoul, South Korea)
Kate (Vermont)

Peter (Georgia)

Oliver (Southern California)

Daniel (Illinois)

Lilly (Maryland)

Celeste (New Jersey and Washington, D.C.)

Bryce (Southern California)

JJ (Bloomington, Minnesota)

Ben (Washington, D.C.)

Alex (Washington, D.C.)

Lizzie (Pennsylvania)

Teresa (Southern California)

Joseph (Maryland)

Stephen (Massachusetts)


Friday, July 18, 2014

SPS '14: Mock Congressional Debate

After working throughout the session on an project involving formulating a piece of legislation on current policy issues such as Social Security reform, health care, and gun control and drafting a "press release" and holding a "press conference" to promote their bill, today the St. Albans School of Public Service capped off the project with a mock Congressional-style debate on each of the bills.  As the photos below show, the rhetoric was heated and the votes were close!

Slideshow of Photos from the SPS '14 Talent Show

A highlight of the St. Albans School of Public Service session every year is the Talent Show.  Enjoy a slideshow of photos from this year's SPS Talent Show!  (Note: The slideshow uses Flash so it will not be visible on IOS mobile devices such as iPhones or iPads.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An Evening on Capitol Hill

After a visit to Capitol Hill during Week 3 of the 2014 St. Albans School of Public Service Program to meet with a U.S. Senator, we were back this week to focus on the House.  We began with a late afternoon tour of the Historic Capitol Building, with the National Statuary Hall being a spot of particular interest since each State has had an opportunity to select two statues for inclusion, and the choices reflect a good deal about the history of the nation.  We also enjoyed the majestic Capitol Rotunda (see brief video below).
After touring the Rotunda, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet with Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), a 26-year Member of the House of Representatives (and father of Celeste, SPS Class of 2014!).  Congressman Pallone took questions on everything from his road to politics to the upcoming mid-term elections.

We ventured off Capitol Hill itself but stayed in the neighborhood for dinner.  Top Chef tv show fans got a treat with our visit to former Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn's restaurants, Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza.  (Verdict from SPS 2014: two enthusiastic thumbs up!)  After a good meal, nothing like a brief constitutional: we strolled back over the Capitol Hill grounds to meet our bus back to St. Albans.  At that point in time, our streak of superb weather luck finally broke, and the skies opened up.  But SPS '14 was more than game for the challenge, converting their "Business Casual" attire to "Business Trashbag" with some home-made raincoats.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Panel on Ukraine-Russia Crisis and Dinner with Visiting Ukrainian Students

Earlier this week the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014 was fortunate enough to host a visit from Ukrainian high school students attending the Transnational Education Group's Washington Summer Business and Diplomacy Leadership Academy.  Like SPS '14, the Ukrainian students are in Washington, D.C. for four weeks, so the two program decided to jointly host a panel discussion on the Ukraine - Russia crisis.  The panelists were Ambassador William Courtney, who served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan after the fall of the Soviet Union and as U.S. Ambassador to Georgia; and Ambassador Steven Pifer, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine.  Our panelists offered their reflections on the current crisis in the Ukraine as well as on the implications for larger Russian policy, and entertained numerous questions.  We were also fortunate to hear from one of our Ukrainian student guests on her family's experience during the crisis.  After the panel discussion, the two groups joined together for dinner in the Refectory (see photos below) and an impromptu dance party in the Common Room.

Monday, July 14, 2014

SPS '14 Visits the Food & Drug Administration

One of the most important federal agencies, both in terms of its economic impact and relationship to the every day lives of Americans, is the Food & Drug Administration ("FDA").  Today the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014 visited scientists and policymakers at the FDA to get an overview on the work of the FDA and an insight into some of the most interesting current issues before the agency.  After an overview presentation on the FDA, the SPS '14 students learned about the FDA's ongoing efforts with respect to health communications on tobacco products; issues concerning genetically engineered animals and genetic engineering in general; and current issues in drug development and clinical trials.  The visit ended with an overview of fellowship and career opportunities at the FDA.
SPS '14 at the FDA

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The SPS Blog May Be Quiet, but Not the School of Public Service Class of 2014!

Don't let a couple of days of "blog silence" on the SPS 2014 Blog fool you into thinking the pace has slowed for the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014.  Although the Blogging Elves took a couple of days off, the SPS '14 students have been as busy as ever.

On Friday, in between classes for Economics and Public Speaking, two more "Ted Trips" left campus.  In the morning, one SPS Ted Trip group visited the Woodrow Wilson Center for a panel called "In the Mainstream: Religious Extremism in the Middle East and North Africa."  (See below for the embedded Wilson Center YouTube video of the event.)

Later in the day, another Ted Trip went to the Center for Strategic and International Security ("CSIS") for the Statemen's Forum, to hear the Japanese Minister of Defense, his Excellency Itsunori Onodera, speak on the enduring nature of the U.S. - Japanese alliance.  CLICK HERE for more information about the CSIS event, including an audiocast of Mr. Onodera's speech.

Speaker Mary Kate Cary
As good as the Ted Trips have been, SPS '14 doesn't have to leave the St. Albans campus to hear great speakers: Friday afternoon brought two to us.

First, SPS '14 heard from Ms. Mary Kate Cary about her career spanning over two decades in Republican politics, including as a Presidential Speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.   Most recently, Ms. Cary has served as Executive Producer of a new documentary, "41 on 41", that brought together 41 storytellers, ranging from Former First Lady Barbara Bush, to former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, to Duke basketball "Coach K," to tell the larger story of President George H.W. Bush's life through the mosaic of their stories.  The film has aired on CNN and will be re-broadcast on CNN in August 2014.  Click HERE for a link to the trailer of "41 on 41"  While at SPS, Ms. Cary was able to offer tips on everything from finding your voice as a speechwriter; how to avoid writer's block; to how to network in Washington D.C. to find your first political job; and her thoughts on the current political scene and upcoming Presidential Primaries.

To end the afternoon, SPS '14 hosted speaker Mr. Charles "Cully" Stimson from the Heritage Foundation.  Mr. Stimson is the Manager of the National Security Law Program and and Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.  A former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Mr. Stimson is an expert on issues concerning detainees in the War on Terror as well as broader issues of civil and criminal law.  By putting SPS '14 in the roles of prosecutors and juries, Mr. Stimson was able to give SPS '14 a closer look at the nuances of some of the perplexing legal issues in the criminal justice system today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SPS 2014: To Capitol Hill to Meet with a U.S. Senator

After yesterday's visit to the Supreme Court, today the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014 ventured back onto Capitol Hill for a visit and Q & A Session with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).  Students had the chance to ask about everything from political divisions in Congress to Senator Whitehouse's views on important policy issues such as climate change.  (Above: our group listens to Senator Whitehouse)

After our visit with Senator Whitehouse, we were able to visit the U.S. Senate Gallery for a quick look at the Senate Chamber.  (Below, John, Dominik, Rebecca, and Charlton show off their Senate Gallery passes.)
Back on our own Hill -- Mount St. Albans -- this afternoon the students have continued to work on the group advocacy project:  currently they are drafting press releases in support of the mock bills they have drafted on various issues (such as energy reform and social security reform).  This afternoon SPS also hosted a speaker, Counselor Xu Xueyan, Political Counselor and Chief of the Political Section at the Chinese Embassy, who spoke about the Chinese analog to the classic "American Dream" -- the Chinese Dream.  

SPS will end the day tonight with a showing of the film "Lone Survivor."  A movie is always a welcome addition to the schedule, of course, but this particular film is relevant to one of the case studies SPS '14 discussed earlier in the program concerning the dilemma faced by a SEAL Team in Afghanistan in navigating the Rules of Engagement while trying to fulfill their mission.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Day, Two Jurisdictions, Two Branches of Government

Have bus, will travel!  The St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2014 headed out on the road early this morning and covered a lot of miles and learned a lot in the course of a day.  In the morning, SPS toured the United States Supreme Court and then was fortunate enough to have a private Q&A session with United States Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.  Justice Kagan answered questions about everything from when she first became interested in the law to the role of law clerks (recently law school graduates who work for the Justices) at the Court.

After a very brief stop back at St. Albans for lunch, SPS '14 headed back to the buses and left the District of Columbia bound for the Maryland State Capitol, Annapolis.  The SPS '14 students were lucky enough to get to sit at the actual desks used by Maryland legislators in the beautiful Chamber of Delegates -- it may be a foreshadowing of future careers for some of our group!  Our host, Maryland State Delegate Jim Gilchrist, spoke to the group about some interesting legislative issues in Maryland and then took questions from the group on everything from federalism to recent legislative developments in Maryland to the difference in how state legislatures are structured in the 50 states.
In the Chamber of Delegates in the Maryland State House with our host, Delegate Jim Gilchrist