Every month, the Foreign Policy Forum examines the state of the world
When Don Nuechterlein arrived at WCBR, he looked around and saw a place where residents were busy with a host of interesting activities. But one thing was missing – a forum for discussing foreign affairs.
“It’s like someone who is interested in watercoloring,” says Charlie Stamm, one of the residents who would join Don in running the new Foreign Policy Forum. Only with Don, the area of interest is the state of the world – something you would expect from someone who was a professor of international relations at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville for 20 years, after a distinguished career in government that had taken him to Bonn, Reykjavik, Bangkok and Washington, D.C.
Charlie says after Don arrived on our campus, he published a note in the newsletter seeking others who would be interested. “He got a room, said let’s meet in the rotunda, and we’ll talk.”
And that’s what the Foreign Policy Forum does, every month. Here are some of the last few topics:
December 2021 – “Iran in Its Own Neighborhood” with the discussion led by Peter Buchanan and David Speedie.
January 2022 – “Challenges/Opportunities for the European Union,” with Horst Wallrabe and Arne Hassing.
February – This month, the Forum tried a different format. Rather that have a presentation followed by questions and discussion, organizers asked that the audience come to the meeting with their own topics, and Don, Peter Buchanan, and Bob Bond would respond.
March – “Israel After Netanyahu,” with Charlie Stamm and David Speedie.
April – “Russian Attack on Ukraine,” with Peter Buchanan and David Speedie.
May – “Taiwan, China, and the World-Wide Semiconductor Industry,” Bob Bond.
As you can see, there is a regular crew of resident presenters. There is also a regular audience of between 40 and 50, and they gather in the Rotunda Room on the second Tuesday of each month for one hour, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
The Forum, like the Westminster Institute of Lifelong Learning (WILL) program, is further evidence of the wide range of expertise that exists among the residents at WCBR – although Charlie personally scoffs at the idea of being an “expert.”
“The reality is that it is a community that has a lot of curious, educated and exposed people,” and he himself is one. He’s a management consultant who in retirement in the early ’90s, got the chance to follow his wife, Julie, to London, where his former company had an office. He went to that office and asked, “Whatcha doing? Do you have any work?” The response was “How’d you like to go to Prague with me next week?”
He ended up commuting to Prague for a year. And after that, he commuted to Budapest for three years. Then, he and wife Julie moved to Charlottesville, where he acknowledges that there are a lot of interesting people and “Occasionally, you do have a person who has some expertise.” Like Don Nuechterlein, and some of the other presenters in the Forum.
Another member of the Forum’s steering committee is Jim Holden, who spent most of his adult life as a practicing lawyer in Washington, DC. His practice area was corporate tax law, but he was always highly interested in international issues, and a regular subscriber to Foreign Affairs magazine.
At the end of his Washington career, he and his wife, Mary, bought a farm north of Charlottesville and lived there for 20 years before moving to WCBR.
He has enjoyed the Forum, which he says never attempted to meet virtually. Still, “I don’t remember ever shutting down,” although the group made sure the audience wore masks during the months that was necessary.
And he’s enjoyed presenting himself: “I did one on Turkey in July of last year,” he recalls.
The Forum is taking a break this summer, but plans to start back in the fall, with such topics as: