Led by Professor Mullen, the Government Department’s senior seminar on Statebuilding in Afghanistan was given the unique opportunity to take a field trip to Washington D.C. on November 22nd, 2019 in order to meet and intimately engage with leading Afghanistan specialists as well as receive feedback on individual research projects.
Our first appointment was with Alice G. Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Ambassador Wells, who has also been a chief negotiator for the U.S. with the Taliban, and her colleagues Mr. Templer, Mr. Pignatello and Mr. Hau briefed the group on current U.S. foreign policy towards Afghanistan and answered questions raised by the group.
The seminar also had a working luncheon with senior Afghanistan specialists at the William & Mary offices in Washington D.C., including Dr. Weinbaum from the Middle East Institute, Colonel Gill from the National Defense University, and Elizabeth Threlkeld from the Stimson Center. During this informal luncheon students engaged with these key policy makers to gain insights into different aspects of politics in Afghanistan.
Our group’s last meeting was at the Afghan embassy with H.E. Roya Rahmani, the Afghan Ambassador to the United States. Here a meeting that was scheduled for 30 minutes turned into over an hour as the ambassador engaged in a frank and off-the-record conversation with the students. Photos of this meeting taken by the Afghan embassy were also posted on the Afghan Embassy’s Facebook page.
We finished our exciting day with dinner at an Afghan restaurant in Washington D.C. Thank you to the Government Department for funding this fantastic experience! Many of us felt that this field trip was one of the highlights of our academic time at William & Mary.