Lessons in Statesmanship From the Bluegrass State

June 30, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Mallory Freeman

Mallory Freeman (right) with Jamin Dowdy of Alabama, Amy Gundlach of Alaska and Kyle Reighard of Kansas.

Last week, I was part of a group of 51 student delegates from around the nation at the fourth annual Henry Clay Center Student Congress in Lexington, Ky., and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

The five-day curriculum focused on statesmanship as practiced by the great Henry Clay, who represented Kentucky in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the 19th century.

Clay was known as the “Great Compromiser,” and this year marks the 200th anniversary of his election as the youngest Speaker of the House. Abraham Lincoln once described Clay as “my ideal of a great man.”

Through lectures and tours, the Clay Center educated us on the art of diplomacy, negotiation, conflict resolution and beneficial compromise. We heard from extraordinary speakers such as U.S. Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Nancy Pelosi of California — the current and former House speakers — and a Burmese refugee soldier.

One of the exercises was a formal debate on the biggest threat to leadership today. Our group argued that a lack of education poses such a threat. We attempted to show that without education, a society fails to grow. Some of the other topics were global debt, terrorism and climate change.

The Clay Center took us to Ashland Manor, Three Chimneys Horse Farm, the New Capitol Building and the Governor’s Mansion.

“There’s hospitality, there’s Southern hospitality, and then there’s Kentucky hospitality,” said former Kentucky Gov. Martha Collins.

For the entire week, the student delegates were greeted with open arms. I felt blessed to represent our school and the state of Arizona, as Anthony Mann, president of the Associated Students of GCU, did at the Clay Center Student Congress last year.

Mallory Freeman, who will be a junior in the fall, is the chief of staff for ASGCU.

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