Ambassador Returns to His Alma Mater

Story by student correspondent, Joseph Kamal '18.

Ambassador Nealon

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 were honored to be hosting the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras, James D. Nealon.

Ambassador Nealon is a 1973 graduate of Bishop O'Connell. He 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. On August 11, 2014, he was sworn in as the Ambassador to Honduras.

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

Presentations like this offer unique learning experiences to high school students on matters relevant 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 program is an optional beyond-the-classroom that has more than 100 students enrolled. Participants choose to focuses 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 like Ambassador 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 Ph.D. in international relations and teaches the global politics core course. "The students are the focal point of this program, and they never fail to raise thought-provoking questions at our events."

Ambassador Nealon concurred: "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 newly gained knowledge and perspective derived from those who are active in the fields that interest them most.