DERBY LINE, VT/STANSTEAD, QUE. - Anna St. Marie, a senior at United Christian Academy, gave a report recently to the Boundary Rotary Club members on her experiences at the World Affairs Seminar (WAS), which she attended in June at Carroll University in Wisconsin. Anna received a scholarship from The Boundary Rotary Club to attend this informative and stimulating seminar.
The World Affairs Seminar is a Rotary District initiative started over 30 years ago in Wisconsin. It brings together high school students from around the world for a week-long seminar to examine, discuss and develop peaceful solutions to pertinent and critical global issues that face the world today. The major topic of discussion at the seminar was Global Sustainable Development. Each student was assigned a discussion group and participated in field trips and breakout sessions with professionals from organizations with a focus on sustainable development.
Anna and five other girls attending the seminar were picked to serve on a special reporting team directed by Peter Sawyer, who works for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. This team looked at the seminar through the eyes of a reporter rather than a participant. They made a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. They wrote speaker profiles, news digests, and some creative articles.
Sawyer taught Anna how to successfully create a hyperlink, showed her reliable news resources and, most importantly, how to blog.
Anna said the two speakers who taught her the most about sustainable development were Robert Neuwirth and Richard White. Neuwirth is an author who spent two years living as a squatter in the slums of four continents. White, an ex-Air Force Squadron Commander, is currently the public relations representative and a spokesperson for Wisconsin Energy Corporation. He very effectively and clearly explained the pros, cons, costs, efficiency, and waste product of every form of energy (i.e. solar, hydro, coal, nuclear).
Other professionals who spoke at the seminar included Fred De Sam Lazaro, a reporter for the PBS News Hour; Robert Ricigliano, Executive Director of the Conflict Management Group; and Mark Hannafin, a Senior Conflict Advisor for USAID.
According to Anna, living and connecting with 282 other international students from 18 countries at the seminar - with their varying culture and lifestyle differences - gave her a new sensation of equality. Equality in a sense that it is not just American youth that will be the future world leaders, nor is it only the young people from other developed countries. She learned that it is the boy that works on his family’s farm on the Cayman Islands; the outspoken, yet level-headed, Norwegian; the Trinidadian with strong Christian values; the fun-loving and adventurous New Zealander; and even the Indian from the slums of Delhi who have the same ambition and determination to change the world as the incredibly fortunate participants like herself.
Anna feels that by connecting at this seminar, someday when she and the other students are the presidents and federal judges, they will be able to understand and take into consideration every perspective, decreasing misinterpretations that lead to violence.
The seminar wasn’t all business. It had the makings of a good ole’ fashioned summer camp, as reported by Anna. In one week, she met many people from around the globe, sang karaoke, played team building games, performed in a talent show, played guitar in a campfire circle and more.
Anna thanked the Boundary Rotary Club for her scholarship to attend the World Affairs Seminar. She called her experience “unimaginable.” She highly recommends and encourages other students, no matter what their interests are, to go to the World Affairs Seminar because they will come back with a whole new outlook on the world and how it runs.
Submitted by Richard Fletcher