GCU’s Anthony Mann Reps Arizona at Kentucky Conference
“Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.”
The great statesman, Henry Clay, spoke these words. I must say, I could not agree with him more. The ideals Clay held true to his heart — debate, diplomacy and beneficial compromise — were the driving force behind the third annual Student Congress Conference put on by the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. It was an experience that I will value for the rest of my life.
Over the weeklong session in Lexington and Frankfort, Ky., the conference emphasized Clay’s fundamentals through an intensive curriculum stressing diplomacy, dialogue, listening skills, negotiation and mediation. These variables are key factors in developing strong statesmanship and leadership skills.
As if my opportunity to represent GCU and the state of Arizona were not honor enough, it was my privilege to learn from renowned Harvard professors, established state officials in public service, federal judges, American diplomats and former ambassadors.
The mission of the conference, aside from developing important skills, was to shed light on global threats affecting the next generation. All 51 delegates broke into groups and tackled a global threat, preparing an argument to present to the congress.
Upon the completion of successful briefs and debating, the congress voted that the water crisis, overdependence on oil and global terrorism would be the greatest global threats to the next generation.
Adding to the authenticity of the experience was the opportunity to debate these issues in the old House of Representatives at the former Kentucky State Capitol. It felt as if we were members of Congress working through issues on the floor. The experience was surreal.
The idea of developing a mentality more conscious of compromise elevated my experience. It saddens me to see how partisan politics dictate the outcomes of government action and everyday lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I encourage debate and opposing views. But an overbearing force that is only one piece to the puzzle is hurting our nation. This motivates me to always find that middle ground. There is no value in not working together.
Investing in others and engaging with them is just as important as investing in yourself, especially when it comes to serving the greater cause.
The other 50 delegates represented every state and the District of Columbia. Much of the value I took from the experience was through participating in dialogue with the entire delegation. These individuals will be the future leaders of America. They were brilliant, active in their communities and they gave me a sense of hope about America’s future. The time spent with them was unforgettable, but the friendships I made are priceless.
Anthony Mann of Olympia, WA., is a Junior Sociology major at GCU. His interests include traveling, trying new foods and politics. Anthony will serve as the 2010-2011 ASGCU Student Body President this fall and currently works in the Office of General Counsel at Grand Canyon University.