Political Science majors Gabriel Hardy-Françon and Sarah Cinquemani write about their experience at conferences across the country.
It seems right to start by thanking the department of political science for giving me this incredible opportunity to experience my first conference on Global Affairs. Although the title was “Student Conference on United States Affairs,” the topics addressed at the roundtables were much broader; Russia, Brazil, Europe, Africa, Twitter, women in society, the environment—all the major subjects that world leaders are working on as I am writing this. The theme of the conference was “The Impact of Demographics.” We were approximately 200 students, each being assigned to a roundtable that would address only one particular topic such as “The Dying Bear Reborn?” (on Russia), “The Revolution Will Be Tweeted,” “Old Europe,” or “From Mil to Civ,” which is the discussion I attended. For each topic, we had to look at how demographics impact the subject. Roundtables were comprised of 12-23 students, along with co-chairs, who were professionals and experts on the issues being discussed. The debate lasted for three days, for a total of 23 hours, and culminated in a collective policy paper, which attempted to prescribe adequate answers to the problems.
What I loved about this conference was how seriously we, as students, were taken. West Point’s superintendent who addressed us on the first evening, during a welcoming panel, reminded us that we had been picked to attend this conference, that we are the leaders of tomorrow, and that this conference was the chance for us to build a professional network and to learn how to fulfill our future missions. He emphasized how this was the opportunity for us to develop our leadership, and I think we all did. The conference helped me gain confidence in myself as well as in others, for the people with whom I worked were so brilliant that I would have no problem later in life giving them my trust, assuming we will meet again.
At some points it was difficult to avoid digressing, because we all had great ideas. Happily though, none of the people sitting at my roundtable showed animosity or frustration. We all tried to understand each other’s point, first by listening thoroughly to what one had to say, and then by letting every single person speak. I would like here to underline that some people around my table came from prestigious Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Columbia, and they proved one of my theories of life to be right; I believe that regardless of what school you attend, what matters is the way you express yourself and the initiative you show in whatever work you do. I felt very proud to be at the table representing Adelphi University and all the brilliant people I know on campus. Attending this conference showed me that we all have an opportunity to achieve the important political positions of tomorrow; it comes down to our desire, determination, and involvement. Adelphi University gives us the right tools to reach our high ambitions.
In early February, I was surrounded by Super Bowl attendees at LaGuardia airport, during a snowstorm, waiting to fly to Colorado. For three days, I was the Adelphi representative attending the 55th Annual Academy As-sembly at the US Air Force Academy. The focus of the assembly was India-US Relations. Though the weather was a chilling -22 degrees Fahrenheit both days, the discussions and lectures were heated and passion-ate. Nearly 150 delegates from colleges across the country and abroad participated in multiple roundtable dis-cussions, listened to scholars lecture about food security, terrorism, foreign policy and more. The few days I was there were filled from sunrise to way past sunset with opportunities to address, in roundtables, what the speakers offered, while also addressing our personal questions and ideas about India. I thought I would be out of place at a conference focused on foreign relations of India and the US, but I found the roundtables to be the optimal opportunity for me to make connections about matters of international relations that I studied at Adelphi. As the hours went by, I found myself excited for the next round of discussions. I couldn’t wait to get back into heated, hour-long conversations with my group.
While there, I became close to a student from China who studies at George Washington University. It was fas-cinating to have a conversation with someone from China about foreign policy and hear first hand how things really are. We came to the conclusion that more students need to start the dialogue with people from other countries to acquire a better understanding of global politics. It was apparent in my roundtable sessions, with people during meals and while listening to lectures, that my coursework in Professor Laatikainen’s International Relations class was extremely relevant. When talking about Indian security, it was difficult to bypass the ques-tion of terrorism from its neighbor, Pakistan. The Indian government, though fragmented, is working tirelessly with the US to strengthen its military power and knowledge to protect its citizens. This conference opened my eyes to the countless ties which connect countries together. From a discussion about India and the United States, we learned about China, Pakistan, Syria and Mexico. I am increasingly impressed with what my peers are passionate about and how they focus their time to learn more about the areas in politics they care most about.
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