Political Science Majors Linda Naumann, Shannyn Ball, and John Bourquin write about their conference experiences.

The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy and the United Nations

June 24-28, 2013
New York, NY and Washington, DC (The UN and Various Cultural Interest Places in Washington, DC)

By Linda Naumann ’14

A few weeks ago I attended, as a representative of Adelphi University, the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy’s symposium titled “US Cultural Diplomacy: The Use of the Arts in Promoting Dialogue, Fostering Peace, and Initiating Mutual Understanding amongst World Cultures and Civilizations.” The week-long event was split between New York City and Washington, D.C. I was excited to be going, as I have a huge interest in the arts and art history, and thought this would be a great way to see how I could combine my interests with my major. I was also looking forward to the fact that several major museums were somehow involved in this event.

Unfortunately, the symposium was not entirely what I was expecting. To me, it seemed to have little to do with the arts and appeared more heavily focused on other aspects of culture (especially religion) and the roles that governments, businesses and states had in fostering international relations. However, this did not mean I was disappointed with the discussions or debates; many were very interesting. I found that I enjoyed the time spent in Washington, D.C. the most. Days were split between the National Public Radio Headquarters and Johns Hopkins University and I felt the lectures more clearly related to the name of the symposium.

While in D.C., there were two speakers who stood out to me the most. The first was Nicolas Kralev, author and expert on diplomacy, world affairs and global travel. He discussed the various roles that diplomats to other countries played and the multiple responsibilities/duties they were expected to do. But his main point was that these diplomats ought to have not only interest in their job roles, but an interest in and knowledge of the region that they are being sent to. According to him, if a diplomat is fully aware of the customs and cultures of the region, it’s much easier to create relationships with the local people and governments.

But the speaker I enjoyed the most was András Simonyi, former Hungarian Ambassador to the United States and NATO. His lecture was exactly what I was expecting from the conference – the role of the arts in international relations, but focusing on music. He noted that while many other countries may not approve of the stances of American politics, there’s no denying that they love American music. He believed, for example, that rock ‘n’ roll music assisted in weakening the totalitarian grip of the Iron Curtain. So why not continue to use that shared interest to open up doors between nations? Even Simonyi himself formed a band with other ambassadors, called Coalition of the Willing. (Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan is their guitarist, which is pretty sweet, if you ask me.)

Lastly, András Simonyi promoted using other less traditional methods to reach out to people. Here, he discussed his appearances on late-night talk shows, especially his multiple appearances on The Colbert Report. Simonyi admitted that while he risked his own political reputation in Hungary by appearing on the show, he was able to connect with new audiences in various countries that he may not have been able to communicate with otherwise.

Overall, I enjoyed the symposium, though I wish there was more of a focus on the arts. However, I would recommend attending any of ICD’s future conferences and symposiums especially for those with an interest in international affairs.

The Friendship Ambassador’s 12th Youth Assembly at the UN

August 2013
The United Nations, New York

By Shannyn Ball ’14

This summer I was chosen by the Political Science department at Adelphi University to attend the 12th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations. This event brought together young people from around the globe to engage in global politics and discuss the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Youth Assembly focused on the role of young people in creating a better global community through service projects and showed how putting the ideas of today’s youth into action can assist in changing the world.

On my first day, I arrived at the United Nations General Assembly Hall and was excited to begin this event knowing that here in this building, multiple international ambassadors and leaders are trying to achieve goals for peace and to make the international community a better place for all of its citizens. We were addressed by Simona Misculescu, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, who gave an inspiring speech explaining how global youth are a key asset to achieving the eight MDGs. This speech set the tone for everyone else who spoke and encouraged everyone in the room to make a difference in the global community. Later on, we watched a film called “Dancing in Jaffa” starring Peter Dulaine, a man trying to achieve his goal of having Israeli and Palestinian children dance together, knowing the difficulties that have risen in the past and continue in the present between these two nations. I related to Mr. Dulaine, as dance has been a large part of my life for many years and I understand its positive impact on younger generations. This film displayed how dance is an international language that can bring people together after all they have been through. Mr. Dulaine’s passion for this cause has motivated me to take more of an interest in using dance as a tool to bring about peace.

Throughout the event I had the chance to visit the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations. While there I talked to the Political Foreign Services Officer who gave me insight into her job at the United States Mission and how she earned this position. This was extremely interesting, as I have dreamed of this job for the past 5 years. Because of the Youth Assembly event, I finally had the opportunity to discuss the job with an actual Foreign Services Officer. She discussed the issues that the Mission of the United States is currently addressing, including human rights and democracy, peace and stability, and climate change. Learning about this job from an expert taught me more about ways in which I can make a difference globally.

The most important lesson I learned is that every young person’s actions and voice counts. People I met while at the event have achieved a great deal in trying to change the global community through these eight MDGs. One individual named Kehkashan Basu, from India, gave a speech about her experiences and achievements with UNEP. Her presentation of what she has accomplished since she was eight years old to now, being the Global Coordinator for Children and Youth for UNEP at the age of thirteen, was absolutely amazing. This encouraged me, as well as many other attendees, to try to achieve goals such as these to better the world. I have also made connections with people from Canada, Mali, India, and Singapore, which has been one of the most beneficial aspects of the Youth Assembly for me. I have been inspired by this event to become a more actively involved global citizen and want to assist in achieving the global MDGs before the year 2015.

The U.S. Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference

April 9-11, 2013
Annapolis, Maryland

 By John Bourquin ’14

Of all of the opportunities that Adelphi University has offered me, my attendance at the 2013 Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference is definitely among the most memorable and fascinating experiences of my college career.

The Political Science Department sent my close friend Sindre Viksand and I as delegates to the conference, which took place April 8th through 10th at the United States Naval Academy’s campus in Annapolis, Maryland. We were two of some 150 delegates from the world over who converged on the base for the 53rd Annual Foreign Affairs Conference, whose topic of discussion was the changing role of the United States in the modern world.

Exchanges and discussions took place in various settings, both in small groups of less than 20—known as roundtables—which delved into specific facets of the changing role of the United States, and in mass lectures, given to the entirety of delegates by notable speakers. The experience of both the round tables and the lectures was further enhanced by the caliber of speakers provided: several Middle East and international relations experts, many of whom have advised Presidents, two officers of the United States Special Operations Command, and the Ambassadors to the United States from Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea. The final address was given by Admiral William McRaven, Commander of the United States’ Special Operations Command, who is best known for his key role in planning the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Be it the roundtable discussions, the group lessons from knowledgeable experts, or talks over dinner with fellow students from all corners of the world, attending the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference 2013 was one of the most enriching college experiences I could have hoped for.

This piece appeared in the Political Science Newsletter Fall 2013 edition.

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