Tennessee WorldQuest Champs from Hume-Fogg Compete in Washington

“Seeing all the monuments is really beautiful and powerful and reminds me why I should be proud to be in this country and a part of it and a part of the conversation.”  — Sarah Matthews, junior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, Nashville

One of the things we do at the Tennessee World Affairs Council is our work with Academic WorldQuest.  Academic WorldQuest is a nationally networked team-based and youth education competition for high school students. In the competition four-student teams compete by answering multiple-choice and fill-in the blank questions divided into ten categories ranging from international affairs, US government policy, current events and more. After a local World Affairs Council hosts their tournament the winner is eligible to participate in the National competition in Washington, DC.

This year’s Tennessee Championship team was from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School in Nashville. As part of their reward for earning their ticket to DC we at the Tennessee World Affairs Council set them up for two days of meetings with the Tennessee representatives at the Capitol, State Department officials, and staff from the Brookings Institution “think-tank” as well as a visit to the Croatian Embassy.

The Hume-Fogg team included Philip Lovell (teacher/coach), Sarah Matthews, Libby Riddle, Christine Li, and Alex Hines. They were accompanied by the Tennessee World Affairs Council Programs and Development Manager Logan Monday.

 Visiting on Capital Hill

Thursday, we were on Capitol Hill and were honored to meet Senator Alexander, staff from Senator Corker’s office and Congressman Cooper.

Global Affairs Meetings

Friday, we visited the Brookings Institution, the Croatian Embassy, the U.S. Diplomacy Center of the State Department and United States Institute of Peace.

Saturday they competed in the Academic WorldQuest National Competition at the National Press Club. Teams from 45 World Affairs Councils from all over the country, including Hawaii and Alaska, came to DC to test their mettle. Categories included NAFTA, Climate Change, Peacebuilding, America’s Diplomats and more. The students were excited to compete with 44 other teams even if they didn’t place at the top.  Nonetheless they and their coach were proud of their efforts.

Academic WorldQuest

Academic WorldQuest

In Their Own Words

The students each expressed their amazement at how approachable and normal everyone was in each institution. Which of course made the trip even more worthwhile. We at the Tennessee World Affairs Council believe that government is filled with normal people that care about their homes, be it abroad or here in the States. 

The impact this trip made is evident in the student’s own words:

Alex Hines is a senior at Hume-Fogg and what he came away from the trip to Washington DC was, “I learned about all the different opportunities that are out there for people who are interested in the Foreign Service, people who are interested in improving United State’s relations with other countries.” On meeting the Second Secretary and other Diplomatic Personnel in the Croatian Embassy Alex said, “He was AWESOME! He told us about the Croatian culture and the way the government was organized. It was just amazing.” 

Sarah Matthews is a junior and for her, “It was really fascinating to hear from the State Department’s Foreign Service Officers about the way they learn when preparing to go to another country. How they incorporate culture into the language learning so that they feel like they’re able to communicate ideas on behalf of the people where they are and incorporate those opinions into the conversation in Washington.”  One of her favorite things about the trip was, “Seeing all the monuments is really beautiful and powerful and reminds me why I should be proud to be in this country and a part of it and a part of the conversation.” 

Christine Li is a junior and one thing she learned was, “Just how important think tanks like the Brookings Institution are.” She went on to say, “It’s really interesting to see how Brookings becomes the bridge between a lot of academic research and the actual policy that impacts us all day to day … Being able to speak with those in the State Department was really interesting because the State Department is something we often forget about but is something that is so essential to our lives.”  Her favorite thing about the trip was, “Riding the train underneath the Capitol!” 

Liddy Riddle is a junior and one thing that she learned from the trip was, “From Congressman Cooper on incorporting the idea of perspective. He showed us a polar map … and talked about how looking at continents and countries and the world in a very different way from what we’re used to but in ways that are also still true.” The trip was impactful to Liddy since, “In Washington DC there are so many different perspectives, especially perspectives that seem that they can’t coexist in the same time … yet like the different map perspectives they all are true in a way.”  

She finished by saying, “Thank you to the Tennessee World Affairs Council for bringing us here and allowing us to have these great opportunities that I definitely would not have had otherwise. It’s been great!” 

However, it was their coach and teacher, Philip Lovell, who was inspired from, “Watching the excitement level and engagment these students have had the entire time we’ve been here … What I hope is that this sparks, not only for them to continue on their interest in global engagement but to also encourage classmates to spread the word.” 

Thank You

While we at the Tennessee World Affairs Council are happy to use the Academic WorldQuest to show the students how our government is filled with accessible and welcoming people none of the trip would have been possible without those people taking the time to meet with the team. Thank you to each of the Tennessee representatives, their staffs, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Diplomacy Center in the State Department, the Croatian Embassy and the U.S. Institute of Peace. We also want to thank the World Affairs Council of America for putting another successful Academic WorldQuest!

Lastly, none of this trip would have been possible without your membership and/or donations. Thank you for your continuing support of the Tennesse World Affairs Council. Your  membership and contributions make this possible. To become a member of the council click here. If you’d like to donate click here. Thank you and with your support we’re looking forward to returning next year!







THE MISSION of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.

THE VISION of  the Tennessee World Affairs Council is a well-informed community that thinks critically about the world and the impact of global events.   

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