Thanks to the Politics and International Affairs Department, I had the honor of representing Wake Forest at the 2017 Student Conference on U.S. Affairs. The conference was held at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was organized by the student cadets. The theme of the conference was the “Politics of the Aggrieved and Forgotten: Remaking the New World Order,” and our mission was to break into small groups and draft a policy recommendation for our area of focus. My group, “Migration and Refugees” had about 20 students, whose experience with immigration was both personal and academic. For three days, we debated which policies would best address the brokenness of our immigration system, while also working towards a policy recommendation. To advise us, we had the former U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo William Garvelink, and Refugee Women’s Network researcher Katharina Obser.
The event also featured interesting keynote speakers, such as Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the current UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. The experience of visiting West Point dovetailed nicely with my POL 300 Senior Seminar about Empires and the question of whether or not the United States is an empire. Having attending SCUSA in the historic and academic home of the USM, and engaged in dialogue about a creating a “new world order,” I gained additional clarity on that question. Visiting West Point and seeing security and international relations through the eyes of USM cadets and their superiors was an eye-opening experience. SCUSA was also an opportunity for me to meet undergraduate and graduate students from all around the world, who rang in my 22nd year with me as I celebrated my birthday during the conference. Overall, it was a very enriching experience and I’d like to thank the department for giving me the opportunity to attend and represent Wake Forest.