The Graduating Class of 2020: Tahar Hichri (MGPS '20)

Share this content

May 22, 2020

LBJ student Tahar Hichri (MGPS '20)

What is your favorite memory from your time at the LBJ School?

My favorite memory at LBJ was the international crisis simulation, during which I had to get out of my comfort zone and play the role of strategist for the United States delegation. It was stressful but very rewarding.

I will also always remember the international students' trip to Miami sponsored by the Bollinger Fund — we had a lot of fun and built friendship and camaraderie!

Scenes from the 2020 international crisis simulation.

Dinner with fellow international students during the 2019 Bollinger Fund trip in Miami.

What is the most unexpected thing that happened to you during your time at LBJ?

I did not expect such diversity in opinions and areas of expertise. I learned a lot about different areas of policymaking during class time but also from my peers during informal chats, gatherings and happy hours. I learned several frameworks at LBJ, but most importantly I earned a valuable network of friends who are passionate and expert about several topics ranging from international energy policy to food aid in the developing world.

The LBJ experience goes beyond class. It's an international community of policy wonks that I feel proud to be part of. I already had the extreme pleasure to have Mohamed Abufalgha and Chris Zimmer visit me in Tunisia last summer and I am looking forward for more visits from my peers!

LBJ students Mohamed Abufalgha and Chris Zimmer visit Tahar Hichri (center) Tunisia in summer 2019.

Tell us about your next steps.

I am moving back to my home city, Tunis, where I accepted a manager position at Deloitte. I will be working in their international donors consulting practice and focusing on implementing development projects on behalf of development agencies and institutions in Tunisia, and potentially in Francophone West Africa.

What is your advice to the incoming class?

This is my fourth master's degree, and I know that one could forget things easily after a certain period of time. Keep a diary of all the ideas, topics and discussions that challenge you — even the ones that shock you! I go through the pages of my first year at LBJ and I cannot help but be moved by all the new perspectives and memories I have recorded. Think of it as personal way of doing a refresher that is more fun than going though slides.

What class or experience left the biggest impression on you?

I consider myself privileged for having attended classes with super stars such as Professor James Galbraith and Raj Patel, with whom I built a very personal and rich relationship. I learnt from Dr. Galbraith the necessity to challenge everything, even the most reputable and famous sources and academic work. I also learned from Professor Patel that the bottom-up approach to policy change can and does work. I was very skeptical and very focused on top-down, high modernist and paternalistic approaches, and he helped me understand the limitations and risks of my uneducated opinions. I will be always grateful for their insights and teachings.

Also special mention to Dr. [Lorinc] Redei, who taught me one the most useful classes I took at LBJ. His "Writing for Global Policy" class is a must-have!

You experienced an unprecedented change to your school experience this year. What was the most unexpected thing you discovered about yourself during this time?

I discovered that although I like planning everything, I was able to be resilient in my daily and school life. I had to finish all my papers and exams while being quarantined in a hotel room in Tunisia and after a tumultuous repatriation trip on a military cargo plane (Thanks U.S. Department of State and Fulbright!). Everything went alright, thanks to the support of the school and the inestimable help and flexibility of my professors.

Outside (top) and aboard (bottom) the cargo plane that brought Tahar Hichri back to the U.S. in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown.


News category: