Ask an Expert Naples Council on World Affairs
 
School Outreach


  Jan K. Guben, Chair

 

 

In 2000, the Council formalized an Outreach Program to initiate involvement with local schools, both public and independent, this in the belief that promoting knowledge and understanding of global affairs and issues among young people is of vital importance to our country. Over these past years, the Council's Outreach Program has increased its efforts from simply having its lecturers speak at Collier schools, to offering a wide variety of programs. The Outreach Program is run by a committee of 22 volunteer Council members, who meet regularly during the season to plan and execute Outreach activities.

 

The Outreach Program is conducted by the following volunteers: Dan Bumstead (Chair), Donna Suddeth (vice-chair), Sharlene and Park Davis, Joe Donahue, Debbie Doyle, Marcia Easton, Mimi Gregory, Jan Guben, Judy Harper, Wendy Hodgson, Sophie Hewson, Jon Mohle, Pat Morrison, Linda Penniman, Rhona Saunders, Don Smith,  Chuck Stuart, Aysegul Timur, Connie Van Den Top, Terry Trimble, and NancyWallace.  Judith Lipnick participates ex officio.

 

 

                                                            

                                                       

                                                                                   Special Activity

 

   In November of 2015, The Naples Council on World Affairs (NCWA) nominated a student from the University of Central Florida for a grant to cover the full expenses of his attendance at the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) national conference in Washington, D.C.  WACA was pleased to accept our nominee, who was Grayson Lanza, formerly of Gulf Coast High School and an active participant in both our Academic World Quests and our Model United Nations program.  At UCF, where he is a political science major, he is currently active in the collegiate- level MUN, traveling frequently to MUN competitions all over the country.  In 2013, he was awarded an NCWA scholarship for an Experiment in International Living trip to China.

   The following is the text of an after-event report that Grayson was asked to submit to WACA.

After staying up until 12 am, I was to wake up at 4 am to catch my ride to the Orlando International Airport.  Groggy and tired, I boarded a plane and made the quick flight up to Washington, D.C., eager to attend a conference with twenty-four other scholarship recipients from all over the country.  Little did I know, this trip would be one of the most influential and important I have ever taken, giving me the first taste of the world of foreign relations and service and exposing me to the gravity and importance of the many cogs in the machine that is international relations.

            Washington is a beautiful city and has a spirit to it that is hard to pin down. Is it the sense of wonder, the architecture, or the almost overwhelming feeling that important things are being done in the city at almost any time?  As I walked the city streets, exploring the surrounding areas of Embassy Row before conference started, I noticed the abundance of culture and life teeming throughout. In a twist of fate, I would walk right by the Kurdish Regional Government’s “embassy” several times as I explored the neighborhood of the hotel I stayed in.  Returning to my room to get ready, I was preparing myself for a good time, although not yet grasping the significance of the conference I would be attending.

            Walking into the Fairfax at Embassy Row,  I noticed the air of history and importance that the hotel interior held. The opening ceremony got me excited for what was to come, and the speech by Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, was almost too relevant to be true.  With the ongoing issues concerning Syrian refugees, she provided a lot of in depth, first-hand knowledge on the refugee topic and how the United States government handles refugees.  Exhausted from a long day and an early flight, I trekked back to my hotel to quickly fall asleep.

            I, probably like every one of the other scholarship recipients, found the second day of conference to be one of the most dense, interesting days of not just the conference, but of my life.  The opening panel on the New Map of the Middle East included several knowledgeable and impressive people with their insights on what is happening in the region. The conflicts throughout the Middle East and North Africa are something of great interest to me that I take much of my time to in university to study. To hear the insights from a panel of experts on topics you have spent countless nights researching is almost awe-inspiring.

            The following Keynote speech by David O’Sullivan, Ambassador for the European Union to the United States, and the ensuing panel on the security challenges the West is facing, introduced me to one thing I learned particularly in conference: Russia causes a lot of issues. The passion with which the Ukrainian World Congress president spoke when discussing the war in the east of his country really hit home as to how important these international events were as actual human lives were being affected where they occur. The ensuing Ambassadors’ Luncheon allowed me the amazing opportunity to have lunch with the representative from Georgia.  Discussing the struggles her country faces, with thousands of internally displaced people and aggressive moves from Russia towards Georgia was an enlightening experience. Following the theme of issues with Russia, the panel on The Arctic was probably the panel that informed me the most as I knew the least on activities in the Arctic. My favorite experience of the day would have to be the dinner at the KRG embassy. Meeting the ambassador of a place I study extensively for my undergraduate research thesis at my university, the first in America to have a Kurdish political studies department, so this was a genuinely big opportunity for me. Meeting with the Ambassador topped off a day of amazing opportunity and meetings.

            With the close of the conference with the think tank visit and final keynote speech, I hurried again to the airport to catch my flight back to Orlando. Despite it only being a three day conference, I was exhausted, mostly from the almost endless amount of knowledge I gained in that little time.  The WACA National Conference solidified for me my interest in a career path that would have me working in the international relations field in some fashion, inspiring me to work harder and better for my goals to this end.

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