While the U.S. debt crisis and a government shutdown prevented President Barack Obama from attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia last week, four Furman students made the trip.
The summit, a meeting of economic and political leaders from the 21 member-nations of APEC, gave Brian Boda ’14, Katie Lowery ’14, Sara Kerrigan ’14, and Emily Vontsolos ’13 the chance to hear U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
The foursome attended as Voices of the Future Delegates, lived with students from member countries and were able to interview international policy makers, economists and dignitaries. Sponsored by the Riley Institute, Furman has been participating in the program since 1989.
Professors Cleve Fraser (Political Science) and Nathan Cook (Economics) accompanied the students.
“One of the biggest challenges that I and the other delegates faced while at the conference was defying the stereotypical ‘American’,” says Lowery, a political science major. “Delegates from other economies assumed that we would consider ourselves better than everyone else, be pushy in our beliefs, and would not be willing to have discussions about controversial topics.”
Lowery says her time at Furman proved helpful in confronting the challenge of adequately representing the United States.
“When speaking with other delegates, no questions were off the table. I received questions regarding politics, the structure of our government, the state of our economy, the future of our education system, and so on and so forth,” she says.
“I felt prepared to answer the questions that came my way because I had academic exposure to a broad range of topics.”
Boda, also a political science major, said attending the conference put into perspective plans for life after Furman.
“Ultimately, I would like to work in the public sector developing U.S. foreign policy,” said Boda. “Throughout my college experience, Furman has provided opportunity upon opportunity to pursue my interests in international relations, and I could not be more thankful for this experience.”
In their free time the group did managed to enjoy the world famous Bali beaches and sample some local cuisine. To learn more of their experience view the group’s blog.
Indonesia photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com