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In my sophomore year at Tufts, as I struggled to determine my major, I stumbled across the Tufts European Center’s program in Talloires. It sounded good. I needed another French class to complete the language requirement. Added in a class on international economics. I knew little of life in France—but heard the Alps were amazing.  Why not try something new?

I can still recall being swept off my feet as the bus wound its way from the Geneva airport down small roads and through valleys ultimately switch-backing down to the tiny, stunning lakeside village of Talloires and the ancient priory where the European Center is based.  Living with a French family and being forced to speak French continuously quickly lifted my French from textbook to flowing conversation. But the real impact—the real magic—was intangible. The summer of 1986 in Talloires is the moment that my nineteen-year-old self turned the corner to a much brighter pathway. From learning about the world to learning with the world. How or why, it’s hard to say. Deep immersion in a new culture. Watching my language skills grow. Building bonds with my host family. Developing a deep appreciation for mountains and lakes. An understanding of international economics and the international institutions in Geneva.

In the decades since, I went to work on international economic development and U.S. foreign policy in places as small as tiny nonprofits to institutions as large as the World Bank (where two of my three my bosses all ended up being French) and even as an appointee of President Obama. All the while carrying with me many of the lessons I learned that summer in Talloires. But most importantly of all, I have had fortune and blessing to continue to share my attachment to Talloires, and what it means to me, through visits back with the people I love most of all: my wife and three children.

Hady Amr (A88, Tufts in Talloires 1987) served as United States Deputy Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations from 2014 – 2017 working on a team under Secretary of State John Kerry, focusing on key economic issues. From 2010 – 2013 he served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  From 2006 to 2010, he served as a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the founding director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.