Riley Advanced Team Members Publish Op-Ed in Greenville News

By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor

Six students represented Furman at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference, three pictured here with Ian Bremmer (center), president of Eurasia Group.  The group spoke about geopolitical stability in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of The Riley Institute.

Last year’s Paris terror attacks held the global community in gripping fear and yielded an outpouring of emotion. The night of the attacks, six Furman students were networking with global delegates in the Philippines, and none of the nations could believe what they were hearing.

“It’s so different hearing about these types of attacks outside the West. We were all so shocked,” Gray Johnson, ‘16, said.

Johnson recalled this memory in a recent op-ed she and senior Mallary Taylor, ’16, published last month about their experience at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held in Manila.

The two students keyed in on the diversity of the conference, an economic summit of 21 Pacific Rim economies. The article notes that though the conference was centered on regional economies, the conversations at hand were key to solving larger international issues facing the 21st century.

“The theme of APEC 2015 – ‘Building inclusive economies, building a better world’ – was particularly fitting, given the global context of issues like terrorism, the refugee crisis and climate change,” the article states.

Not only was the conference filled with diversity, the article makes clears, but the six students themselves came from different backgrounds and interests.

“We represented a range of majors such as economics, political science, Asian studies and psychology,” Johnson and Taylor write. “One student in the delegation grew up in Rwanda, providing an international perspective.”

That student was Jonathan Kubakundimana, ’16, who got a chance to interact directly with international delegates, as compared to the usual conversations the group had with student delegates. Cleveland Fraser, Ph.D., who served as a faculty adviser on the trip, says that watching students like Kubakundimana gave him no doubt how well these students represented themselves and their university.

“For the past four or five years, other than a delegation coming from Hawaii, the delegation from Furman is the delegation from the United States. So they represented Furman very well. They represented their country really well too,” Fraser said.

The trip was organized and funded by the Riley Institute. Students who participated in the conference were selected through an interview process, and the group included students ranging from sophomores to seniors.

Fraser says to watch out in the future for these students, as many go on to use the experience at APEC a springboard for careers in international work.

“A 2008 participant in this program was actually a political officer in the embassy in Manila where…the 2015 APEC occurred,” Fraser said. “And part of the reason she’s a foreign service officer was that she interacted with folks at APEC when it was in Lima, Peru.”

The Riley Institute plans to send more members to next year’s conference in Lima, Peru.

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