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Global Citizen: Adam Stahl '03

The latest in our series on Alumni in Global Affairs

by Liz Lightfoot '77 P '05, '07, '08, '12
Alumni Relations, Community Outreach, and IDEA Parent-Teacher Alliance

Congratulations to Adam Stahl '03, who was recently named Advisor to the Under Secretary of Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Adam, who has held a wide range of roles related to international relations and national security, both here and abroad, received his M.Phil. in Russian, Central European, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Oxford University and his BA in History and International Relations from the University of Rochester. He also has a language certificate in Intensive Russian Language Program from Odessa State Polytechnic Institute.

In addition to his newest role, some of his previous titles have included: Special Assistant, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Europe/Eurasia Fellow for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee; National Security Fellow for the Senate Republican Policy Committee; Research Assistant for the International Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank in Ukraine; and Project Assistant for the National Democratic Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based  nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

As The Country School continues to evolve our Global Citizenship program, we reached out to Adam to see what led him to a career in the international realm and to share some of the work we have been doing as we seek to develop global citizenship and international mindedness in our students. Adam said he would be happy to respond, because, from his vantage point, it is "really important to cultivate these attributes as early on as possible." 

Adam shared a bit about his own evolution, first as a student and now as a professional focusing on international affairs. "From an early age, I developed a deep desire to learn about and interact with people, cultures, and places different from my own," he said. "This interest in global affairs, in part, originated and was further cultivated as a student at TCS."

Adam described some of the Country School experiences he believes were most formative. "History classes on Medieval Europe and the Roman Empire were not just simply taught within the confines of the classroom," he said. "Trips to museums, outdoor excursions, and bringing historical events 'to life' highlighted an educational environment that was dynamic and embraced adventure and intellectual curiosity."

Adam engaged in more international programs in high school, then college and graduate school, and eventually through his work. "Studying and working abroad in Czech Republic, Bosnia, the U.K., Ukraine, and now, as an Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, D.C., would not have occurred without my time at TCS," he said.

We have been fortunate to have had periodic opportunities to catch up with Adam in recent years. In 2014, we held an off-campus alumni reunion in England, when Adam was studying at Oxford along with some fellow Country School alums. Pictured in the photo below, left to right, are Liz Lightfoot '77, P '05, '07, '08, '12, Alumni Relations and Outreach, who was visiting her son, Graeme Clements '05; Hannah Chappell '07, then doing a junior year term abroad at Oxford; Adam; Graeme, who was then studying for his MA in African Studies at Oxford and rowing for the Christchurch rowing team; and Marissa Irwin '05, who was working at BlackRock in London (she now runs a jewelry business, Marissa Irwin Designs; Marissa was on campus last spring with her brother, Billy '07, a software engineer — click here).  

A few years back, before heading to an overseas posting, Adam stopped by campus and caught up with his former teachers. A formidable athlete at The Country School, Adam also helped out a bit with the soccer program during his time in Connecticut. In the photo below, Adam and Athletic Director Chris Wallack find Adam's name on the Cox Bowl, awarded to the athlete who best personifies the ideals of leadership, sportsmanship, attitude, and achievement upon which the school's athletic program is based.

Last fall, home to see his family for Thanksgiving break, Adam stopped by campus during our Fall Alumni Reunion. Below, he surprises Cindy Richar, administrative assistant to Head of School John Fixx.

We're hoping to get Adam back to campus again soon, so students and teachers can hear firsthand about his trajectory and why he believes it is critically important to improve global mindedness in our youth. We would also love to share some examples of what we have been doing on that front and hear an expert's opinion about what more we can and should be doing.

As the National Association of Independent Schools says in its Principles of Good Practice —Educating for Global Citizenship and International Mindedness, "Independent schools are in a unique position to prepare students to be global citizens, individuals who are knowledgeable, compassionate, ethical, curious, and internationally minded leaders within a dynamically interconnected world." NAIS suggests that, among other things, schools should: demonstrate a commitment to global education and international mindedness, show evidence of teaching and learning that challenges students to expand their perspectives and understanding of the world, provide opportunities for students to be of service to the larger world, exhibit an embrace of diversity and inclusivity, and provide professional learning opportunities for teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders.

To learn more about The Country School's Global Citizenship initiative and other alumni working in global fields, click here.