On September 21, the participants and CHDS professors from two courses assembled in the Abraham Lincoln Hall Auditorium as one group for a final time. Two sessions of the course on Combating Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Networks in the Americas (CTOC) and one session of the course on Terrorism and Counterinsurgency (TCI) comprised a total of forty-nine students, representing sixteen countries in the Western Hemisphere. CHDS Professors Patricia Escamilla-Hamm and Celina Realuyo taught the CTOC seminars, and Alejandro Arbeláez and Carlos Ospina team-taught the TCI session.
The closing ceremony marked the end of the two-week in-residence phase of the courses, which took place at CHDS in Washington, DC. Following their journeys back to their countries of origin, the students now begin the final phase of their respective courses, which is the research and writing phase that culminates in a final graded paper on a relevant security and defense topic.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, Mr. Mark Wells, serves as Director of Western Hemisphere Programs and International Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement for the US State Department and has had a longstanding relationship with the Hemisphere throughout his career in the Foreign Service. Mr. Wells spoke to the students about the important connection between fighting organized crime and terrorism and the requirement for multifaceted and multinational strategies to combat these interconnected threats.
Following Mr. Wells’ speech, the students received their certificates from CHDS Director Dr. Richard Downie, and three students, one representing each course session, spoke about their experiences during the in-residence phase, and the lessons they will bring back to their home countries. Once the students have completed their final research projects, they will become members of the vast and interconnected CHDS Alumni community.