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Ambassador Nealon returns to O'Connell

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Students in the Global Studies Certificate Program at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington participate in a variety of seminars and discussion groups. Earlier this year, they hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, James D. Nealon.

A 1973 graduate of Bishop O’Connell, Nealon studied history at Boston College before entering the foreign service in 1984. His assignments have included embassy positions in Spain, Hungary, the Philippines, Uruguay, Peru, Chile and Canada. He was sworn in as the Ambassador to Honduras Aug. 11, 2014.

The Global Studies students engaged in an after-school discussion with Nealon on the daily life of an ambassador, the role of embassies and the importance of representing the United States in countries around the world.

Presentations such as this offer unique learning experiences to high school students in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. “It allows me to focus on a subject I enjoy, without having to stress about grades and tests,” said sophomore Carina Ritcheson. “I can just learn.”

O’Connell’s Global Studies is an optional beyond-the-classroom program that has more than 100 students enrolled. Participants choose to focus on one of six main topics: faith and humanitarian issues, global business and finance, language and culture, global health and environmental issues, arts and humanities, and global politics. In addition to regular seminars such as Nealon’s event, students attend after-school “core courses” on ethics, global business and global politics taught by O’Connell faculty members.

“The Global Studies program continues to be an extraordinary vehicle to expand and challenge student thinking,” said Head of School, Joseph Vorbach, who holds a doctorate in international relations and teaches the global politics core course.

Nealon said, “While I wasn’t sure what to expect, what I found was a large group of students who are deeply committed to learning about the world and who have an informed and sophisticated opinion of it.”

Global Studies students who complete the program earn a certificate upon graduation, and more importantly, they take with them knowledge and perspective derived from those who are experts in their fields.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016