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History, Culture and Changing Perspectives: Getting to know Garrett Schaffel



For our latest article of the “Getting to Know You” series, we are (virtually) visiting Chicago, where our newest Communications Manager, Garrett Schaffel, is currently based.

Garrett grew up in a Washington, DC suburb, learning about the world from a rather sheltered, traditional US perspective. But he was lucky to have been able to travel abroad early in life, including a 5-week trip of Europe and Israel during his high school years. During these trips, he was able to see and learn from new perspectives and experience the world from a different point of view.

For his university studies, Garrett chose the University of Pittsburgh. The rich experience there, both on campus and in the city, offered Garrett yet another set of new perspectives. As an English student, Garrett enjoyed researching and formulating arguments, meeting new people and discovering new passions–from pop culture to literature. Garrett especially appreciated a summer abroad program in London, where he was able to work at a publishing house with a variety of people from across Europe.

A pivotal moment for him was counter-protesting the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and witnessing the horrifying car attack at the event.

Garrett cares deeply about the ways in which  world affairs directly impact people, and he is not afraid to take a stand against violence, hate, and oppression. A pivotal moment for him was counter-protesting the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and witnessing the horrifying car attack at the event. However, he can also indulge in the sweeter moments in history. One of his favorite travel stories is being in Amsterdam to watch the Netherlands win a World Cup game in 2014. Despite being a foreigner, the community made him feel welcome, and he could fully soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the celebrations in the moment.

It is clear that Garrett loves to travel and learn about the world’s history and culture on the ground, especially when it leads to interesting surprises. Case in point: a particularly favorite meal? Enchiladas in Poland, Garrett shares! Aside from such interesting finds, he enjoys films, concerts, plays, and of course sports. He hopes to one day travel to Australia to see not just the Great Barrier Reef but also a game of Australian Rules Football, which he’s enjoyed from across the world since his childhood. He recently purchased a film camera – so perhaps we will be able to see some of his future adventures. 

Garrett is passionate about bringing democracy beyond politics.

As part of Humanity in Action, Garrett hopes to continue contributing to the protection of liberal democracy. He is especially passionate about bringing democracy beyond politics and making sure that people have a voice everywhere, from the workplace to the apartment building.

Furthermore, in his position as the Communications Manager, he hopes to ensure that the Fellowships are reaching new audiences, and that our Fellows come from diverse backgrounds and are a broad representation of people. He further hopes for an increasing collaboration. “It’s all about sharing expertise and resources,” he adds. 

In the first few weeks of his time at HIA, Garrett says he feels inspired by the work of the whole HIA community, and looks forward to being a part of telling their stories. 

Garrett, we are honored to have you with us.