The fifth edition of the Transatlantic Future Leaders Forum was extraordinary. Despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, the TFLF board succeeded in establishing valuable new partnerships for the programme and providing a life-changing internship opportunity for the scholars.
Following the cancelled 2020 edition, the new cohort emerged from an even more demanding selection process. In 2021, the TFLF maintained for a second time the record number of 11 new scholars. Between September and December 2021, eleven scholars completed their internships – nine of them at the United States Congress and two at the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Each of the carefully selected participants represented a unique background, experience, and viewpoint, but they all shared the motivation to bring about a positive change to their communities.
The TFLF maintained their strong and longstanding relationship with four of the Offices they have already been working with. Ania Owczarek and Julia Piwowarska joined the Office of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) while Dawid Janulek and Wiktor Zieliński had the opportunity to work for Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN). Moreover, Paweł Siwek worked for Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) while Marcin Czarnecki joined the Office of Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ). Notably, it was the first time that the scholars were placed in the offices of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) – interns Justyna Witkowska and Kamil Jarończyk and Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) – intern Weronika Żurawska. In the UK, Adam Fudala and Paweł Kornacki had the honor of working for Lord Mike Storey. On top of the enriching work experience, the scholars also attended a wide range of extracurricular meetings.
In 2021, these meetings included:
- A visit to the Polish Embassy in Washington DC to meet Ambassador Piotr Wilczek and the employees of the Embassy
- A meeting with Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council
- A meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders
- A reception at the Polish City Club in London
- A meeting with the World Bank’s Senior Economist, Prof. Marcin Piątkowski
- A meeting with Dr Lee Edwards, Historian at the Heritage Foundation
- A meeting with Ambassador Daniel Fried at the Atlantic Council
- A meeting with Piotr Trąbiński, Executive Director at IMF
- Online meeting with Sean Mulvaney of Procter & Gamble
- A meeting with Jonathan Daniell, Director for Defense Policy and European Affairs at Raytheon
- A visit to Lockheed Martin Arlington Offices
- A meeting with Emilia Malachowski, Program Manager in Product Compliance at Amazon
- Online meeting with officials from the Pentagon
- A reception at the Polish Ambassador’s residence to commemorate the premiere of a theatre production about Jan Karski
Other than that, the meetings initiated or organized by the scholars themselves included:
- A meeting with Marcin Wrona, TVN’s correspondent in Washington DC
- A meeting with Karol Karpinski, Specialist at World Bank
- The First Lady’s Luncheon organized by Dr. Jill Biden
- Tribute to Veterans event organized by the EU Delegation
- A meeting with newly appointed Polish Ambassador to the US Marek Magierowski and the Embassy staff
- A meeting with Artur Orkisz, Senior Advisor in Congressional Affairs at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington DC
- A meeting with Philip Bednarczyk, Senior Advisor for Europe and Eurasia at the US House Committee for Foreign Affairs
Overall, the latest edition of the TFLF received outstanding reviews. One of the scholars described it as “one of the most exciting, enriching, and thought-provoking experiences in my life” whilst another mentioned that the internship “will surely impact my future and has already changed it for the better”. The key lessons mentioned by the scholars included; observing how leaders work, learning about the intricacies of bipartisan policy-making, and meeting truly inspiring people. The interns were also pleased about the reputation that the program has gained in Washington, DC – TFLF is well-known and highly praised around the Congress. Finally, a common theme that stood out was the strong bond shared by the scholars.
Reflecting on the 2021 edition, the TFLF hopes that the program will continue to grow and offer more young scholars a learning opportunity that goes way beyond just a summer internship. The TFLF is a network of future leaders who work together to improve transatlantic relations and offer life-changing opportunities to Polish youth.