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Students, faculty, alumni, and donors gathered in the Faculty Room of University Hall on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Weissman International Internship Program.
The program, established by Harriet Weissman and Paul M. Weissman '52, provides funding for professional summer internships overseas for returning undergraduate students. The program aims to foster students’ understanding of the global community.
Thursday’s celebration framed the program as ahead of its time when it was founded.
“The Weissmans were visionaries,” said Office of Career Services Assistant Director Loredana George. “Fifty students go abroad every year, and they come back transformed.”
Students who have participated in the program also praised the opportunity to experience life abroad.
“To rent in a foreign country, to shop in a foreign country, to travel in a foreign country, to live daily life in a foreign country is really rare for people in college,” said Henry A. Shull ’13, who spent his Weissman Internship in Florence, Italy, where he catalogued art, literature, and media in museums.
Weissman interns also said that the opportunity to intern abroad shaped their career paths.
“I never would have run for public office had I not gone to law school, and I would have never gone to law school had I not had the opportunity to work at the law firm in Shanghai through the Weissman Program,” said Michelle Wu ’07, a Boston City Council candidate who participated in the program as a student at the College.
The event began with attendees socializing and enjoying refreshments, after which a few people—including University President Drew G. Faust, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, and the Weissmans—spoke about the program.
“We established the program long before Harvard even thought about allowing students to go abroad to research or work. We were renegades,” Paul said, addressing the forward-thinking nature of the program.
Towards the end of the event, program alumni honored the Weissmans with an engraved display of 87 flags from the 87 countries to which Weissman interns have traveled.
“There was a passive resistance to students going abroad,” Harris said to the Weissmans. “The College has caught up to your vision.”
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