The Truman Summer Institute (SI), held annually in Washington, DC, and initiated in 1991, provides Truman scholars with an intentional community environment in the summer following their senior year of undergrad. The 10-week program includes seminars, presentations, workshops and an eight-week internship with a public service organization. Scholars participate in public policy seminars for the first week and various days throughout the summer. Events include a day on Capitol Hill sponsored by the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership and a workshop on arts and Public service with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Scholars also live communally on the George Washington University campus. But the highlight of the summer has to be the Tuesday night presentations – scholar-led speeches on any topic of their choosing.
Presentations have included a range of topics, from an analysis of Foucault’s viewpoints on the prison system by Meg Beyer (GA ’09) to an exploration the social implications of Lady Gaga in pop culture by Adam Amir (FL ’09). Hometown pride is a popular topic choice. Jennie Hatch (ME ’09) delivered a virtual guide to the Maine Lobster Bake, which left many mouths watering; Amy Nichols (OR ’09) introduced us to the nuances of Pittsburghese. Some scholars have taken this opportunity to showcase little-known feats and talents: at 16, Ellie Emery (CT ’09) completed a 58-day, 700-mile trek across the Canadian tundra; Patrick Reimherr (UT ’09), accompanied by Alex Merkovic-Orenstein (FL ’09) and Adam Amir (FL ’09), wrote and performed a song about the “Truman Blues.”
We wouldn’t be Truman Scholars if we didn’t broach important social issues. Several scholars presented on very serious topics. Olimar Maisonet-Guzman (PR ’09), presented on international water conflicts because she wanted to share one of the two things in her life that she takes seriously, the other being fencing. Jenny Lamb (CO ’09) revealed the complexity of agricultural development in East Africa.
Reynaldo Fuentes (WY ’09) sums up his feelings about the summer. “Whether we are inspired by the speech of a lifelong public servant or debating controversial political issues over homemade dinner, the summer’s experiences will last us a lifetime.”
Aerica Shimizu-Banks (WA ’09) graduated from Seattle University this Spring with a degree in Environmental Studies and Public Affairs. Her interests include policy-making, environmental justice, and handmade greeting cards.
Alex Merkovic-Orenstein (FL ’09), Patrick Reimherr (UT ’09), and Adam Amir (FL ’09) (left to right)