Ambassador Marc Grossman to Address Annual Meeting 2013

Former US Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pakistan Marc Grossman (Photo credit:  NATO)

Former US Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pakistan Marc Grossman (Photo credit: NATO)

The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts is pleased to announce that Ambassador Marc Grossman, former US Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pakistan, will speak at their annual meeting and dinner on Monday, October 7, 2013 at the Springfield Marriott Hotel, 2 Boland Way in downtown Springfield.  The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a  cash bar reception, and then dinner and the program will start at 6:30 p.m.  The event is open to the public and costs $50 per person, which includes dinner.  The registration deadline has passed and this event is now full.

Ambassador Marc Grossman, former US Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pak

Ambassador Marc Grossman, former US Special Envoy to Afghanistan & Pak

Marc Grossman served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the State Department’s third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005 after 29 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. As Under Secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed US policies in the Balkans and Colombia and promoted a key expansion of the NATO alliance. As Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, he helped direct NATO’s military campaign in Kosovo and an earlier round of NATO expansion. In Turkey, Ambassador Grossman encouraged vibrant US-Turkish economic relations.

In 2004, Grossman achieved the rank of Career Ambassador, a rare distinction awarded by nomination of the President and confirmation by the United States Senate.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Grossman back to service in 2011 to replace the late Richard Holbrooke as US. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He promoted the international effort to support Afghanistan by shaping major international meetings in Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago and Tokyo. He provided US backing for an Afghan peace process designed to end thirty years of conflict and played an important part in restoring US ties with Pakistan.

In January 2013 Ambassador Grossman was appointed a Kissinger Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute at Yale University. He is Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Council past president, Ken R. Furst

Ambassador Ryan Crocker & Ken R. Furst in November 2012

The topic of the evening will be Afghanistan, Pakistan & More: The Real Story and will be presented in the form of a dialogue between Ambassador Grossman and World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts Past President Ken R. Furst of Wilbraham, who spent time in Kabul, Afghanistan as a guest of Ambassador Ryan Crocker in the spring of 2012 and also served on the board of the World Affairs Councils of America with Ambassador Grossman.

The aim will be to give the audience an opportunity to hear what’s behind the news and what our country faces in this region of the world.  Grossman will address the situations in Syria and Egypt as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

 

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Government Leaders From Around The World Visit Western Massachusetts

Mike Dobbs, Managing Editor of Reminder Publications (center) speaks with International Visitors about reporting on local politics

Mike Dobbs, Managing Editor of Reminder Publications (center) speaks with International Visitors from six countries about reporting on local politics

Six elected leaders and government officials from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Uganda, and Korea recently spent a few days in Western Massachusetts to learn about local government.  The group is visiting the United States through the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and were identified by American representatives at consulates and embassies abroad.

They kicked off their visit with a working breakfast, talking to veteran journalist Mike Dobbs, Managing Editor at Reminder Publications, who spoke about covering local politics.  He brought up several themes that would recur throughout other meetings including the casino referendum taking place in Springfield that day.  Dobbs touched on the visit in his opinion piece for the week available here.

The group then moved onto the Town of Longmeadow where they met with Paul P. Santaniello, representing the Select Board, and Town Manager Stephen J. Crane.  They explained the five-person Select Board form of town government and described the role of the Town Meeting, following up with video of Longmeadow’s 2012 Town Meeting.

The Hampden Public Library needs a new Globe with Kosovo on it! (Photo credit:  Tyler Witkop, The Wilbraham-Hampden Times.

The Hampden Public Library needs a new globe with Kosovo on it! (Photo credit: Tyler Witkop, The Wilbraham-Hampden Times.

Hampden was next on the agenda where the Visitors toured the Hampden Senior Center, noting that it was being used that day as a cooling center due to the heat wave. They also were able to observe volunteers filling brown grocery bags with food items as well as part of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’s monthly Food for Elders Program.  Lunch was provided at the Hampden Town Hall accompanied by a wide ranging conversation with Select Board President John Flynn and Town Moderator Robert Howarth.  A reporter from The Wilbraham-Hampden Times covered the visit and an article is available here.

After returning to their hotel for a change of clothes, the group headed off to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for a couple of hours of fun.

Springfield Civil Society Panel at the Home of Mark & Patricia Hambley

Springfield Civil Society Panel at the Home of Mark & Patricia Hambley

In the evening long time member and friend of the Council Ambassador Mark Hambley and his wife Patricia opened up their lovely home to host a panel on Springfield Civil Society featuring representatives from the Connecticut River Walk, Friends of the Library, the Springfield Museums, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, the Forest Park Civic Association, the Springfield City Council, and the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club to discuss their organizations and how they work with local government to improve the quality of life for residents of Springfield.

Each International Visitor also had a bit of time to tell the group a little bit about themselves, their countries, and what they were hoping to get out of their visit to the United States.  (Afterwards, our guest from Korea announced to a small group that that was the longest speech he had given in English in his life!)

Ballots from the July 16 Special Election to Approve the Casino Referendum.

Ballots from the July 16 Special Election to Approve the Casino Referendum.

The next day was devoted to Springfield, with a series of meetings at City Hall arranged by political consultant and World Affairs Council board member Tony Cignoli.  Using the casino issue as a “frame” to learn about a wide range of topics, the group heard from Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola, City Solicitor Edward M. Pikula, City Councillor Thomas Ashe, and Communications Director James F. Leydon.  During a tour they visited the Mayor’s Office, the Law Department, the City Council chambers, and the Elections Commission Office where they saw the bags of paper ballots from the previous day’s referendum.  Video of WWLP’s coverage of the visit to City Hall here.

While having lunch at the Palazzo Cafe, the group received a visit from Judith Matt of the Spirit of Springfield who gave everyone hats and some other Springfield gifts.

The final professional meeting of the visit was with Jon Weissman of the Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council who discussed the relationship between unions and state, local and federal government.

In the evening the Visitors went in ones and twos to the homes of four members of the World Affairs Council to enjoy intimate dinners.

The next day they took off for Salt Lake City and they will finish their stay in the United States in Minneapolis.

 

 

 

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WACA 2013 National Conference Set for November 13-15

Karen Wilson Furst greets WACA President Todd Culpepper as Amb. Marc Grossman (left) looks on

Karen Wilson Furst of Wilbraham greets WACA President Todd Culpepper as Amb. Marc Grossman (left) looks on at the World Affairs Councils of America’s 2012 National Conference

The World Affairs Councils of America will host its 2013 National Conference, Six Top Issues for 2014, November 13-15, 2013 at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, DC.

Held annually for over two decades, the World Affairs Councils of America’s National Conference engages its regional leaders and members drawn from the business, civic, and education communities with leading policy-makers and experts. The National Conference launches the National Network’s year-long discussion of the Six Top Issues for 2014 selected by our network leadership across the country and helps plan programming for the coming year.

2013NatConfLogoforCouncilsThe Six Top Issues selected by the National Network leadership as the most important national security issues for the coming year are: Cybersecurity, U.S. Energy Independence, Global Economic Realignment,Middle East, Global Environmental Issues, and K-12 Education.

Please visit the World Affairs Councils of America’s website at www.worldaffairscouncils.org for more information.

 

 

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Video of China Program With Hugo Restall Available Online

Hugo Restall, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in Asia, speaking on Why Chinese Are Unhappy

Hugo Restall, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in Asia, speaking on Why Chinese Are Unhappy

On May 29, the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts was delighted to partner with the Springfield Public Forum in c0-presenting an event that was a little bit different than what each organization usually does but highlighted the many qualities we have in common.  Western Massachusetts native Hugo Restall, Editorial Page Editor of Wall Street Journal Asia, spoke at CityStage on Why Chinese Are Unhappy.  Video of the talk is available here.

The event was well attended and deemed a success so we are likely to partner on similar new programming in the future.

Team Renaissance at Academic WorldQuest 2013 in Washington, DC

Team Renaissance at Academic WorldQuest 2013 in Washington, DC

Although it didn’t make it to the video, we also recognized the students who participated in our Academic WorldQuest competition in January, presenting trophies to the top three teams:  Springfield Renaissance School (1st), Longmeadow High School (2nd), and Wilbraham & Monson Academy (3rd).  Renaissance–which has won four times in the last five years–represented the Council and the Region at the World Affairs Councils of America‘s national Academic WorldQuest competition in Washington, DC in April.

 

 

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International Visitors from Kyrgyzstan Learn About Early Literacy Efforts

Educators from Kyrgyzstan Visit with the Grinch

Educators from Kyrgyzstan hang out with the Grinch at the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield.

Five educators from the Kyrgyz Republic were recently in Springfield through the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to learn more about the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation’s Reading Success by 4th Grade! initiative.  The delegation included the director of a production studio that created the first Kyrgyz language educational cartoon for children, the director of a children’s library, the director of early education at a children’s home, and two specialists from the Ministry of Education of Kyrgyzstan.

A visit with The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Eric Carle Museum

A visit with The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Eric Carle Museum

The Visitors began their stay in western Massachusetts with a trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst.  Although previously unfamiliar with Carle’s work they explored exhibits on his art and techniques, Latino folk tales, and illustrator Robert R. Zakanitch.  They also asked questions of staff in the museum’s reading library and art studio about techniques for encouraging literacy in young children.  The World Affairs Council gave each Visitor a Russian translation of Carle’s book Mr. Seahorse.

In the evening they visited the home of Past Council President Ken Furst and his wife Karen at their home in Wilbraham for an informal dessert reception with members and friends of the Council.  This was a warm and informal opportunity to learn more about one another.

Monday was a full day, beginning with a breakfast meeting with Sally Fuller to hear about the history of the Reading Success by 4th Grade! initiative and the commitment of the Davis Foundation and other funders to making a real difference in the lives of children in Springfield by working with parents, teachers and others to strengthen the literacy rate.

WGBY General Manager Rus Peotter shows off the station's master control room

WGBY General Manager Rus Peotter shows off the station’s master control room

After breakfast they walked over to western Massachusetts’s public television affiliate WGBY, got a tour of the station and then went over to the Gerena Community School to see the North End Center for Literacy and Learning, a key part of a WGBY’s Ready To Learn: North End project.

At lunchtime the group reunited with Sally Fuller at the Springfield Housing Authority‘s Sullivan apartments community room to hear about Talk/Read/Succeed!, a family-school-community framework to organize engagement with families living at two Springfield Housing Authority developments.   Representatives from the SHA, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, and the Behavioral Health Network all spoke about their efforts.  Sally Fuller gave each of the Visitors a copy of the Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss and a Cat in the Hat tee shirt.

Christin LaRocque (right) shows an Old McDonald's Farm toy and book from the Early Childhood Resource Center in the Springfield City Library's children's room

Christin LaRocque (right) demonstrates an Old McDonald’s Farm toy and book from the Early Childhood Resource Center in the Springfield City Library’s children’s room

The last meetings of the day took place at the Springfield City Library.  After a stroll through the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, the group toured the library, heard about programs to support early childhood literacy.  They then met with members of the Early Literacy Coalition, including representatives from Head Start and Home City Families, who discussed ways the Coalition encourages daycare providers to promote and support literacy in the children they care for.

Early reviews from the Visitors and the Professional Resources they met with in Springfield were all glowing.  The IVLP continues to be a wonderful opportunity for folks in western Massachusetts to show off how we try to tackle challenges and to learn things from others from around the world.

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Sue C. Root to Receive Order of the Rising Sun From the Japanese Government

Sue Root and Tadanori Yamashita, Professor Emeritus of Mount Holyoke College, at the World Affairs Council's 2010 Annual Meeting

Sue Root and Tadanori Yamashita, Professor Emeritus of Mount Holyoke College, at the World Affairs Council’s 2010 Annual Meeting

On April 29, 2013, the Japanese government announced that the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, will be conferred upon Ms. Sue C. Root of Holyoke, in recognition of her significant contributions to promoting friendly relations between Japan and the United States of America.

The former Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts, Sue Root has actively contributed to various exchanges between Massachusetts and Hokkaido as a member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Hokkaido Association since its establishment in 1990. Since 1995, she has participated in grass roots exchanges and cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States and fostered mutual understanding between the two countries.  In 2000, on the tenth anniversary of the sister state relationship, she successfully received a delegation of 70 members led by the governor of Hokkaido and conducted various memorial events.

On the 20th Anniversary of the signing ceremony establishing the sister city relationship between Springfield and Takikawa, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Mayor Koukichi Maeda sign a document to renew the relationship.

On the 20th Anniversary in of the signing ceremony establishing the sister city relationship between Springfield and Takikawa, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Mayor Koukichi Maeda sign a document to renew the relationship.

In 2010, on the twentieth anniversary, Ms. Root played an important role in receiving the Japanese delegation, which co-signed a joint-declaration with the Massachusetts Hokkaido Association.  Since the establishment of the sister state relationship, various exchange programs have been created like a chain reaction between Hokkaido and Massachusetts. These programs can be attributed to Ms. Root’s earlier work.

For three decades Ms. Root has contributed to increasing the diplomatic knowledge of citizens of western Massachusetts as a board member–including a stint as President — and then as Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts.  Since her retirement in 2003, she has contributed again as a member of the board of directors of the Council.

1st Class Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun

1st Class Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun

The Order of the Rising Sun is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government created by decree of the Council of State. The order is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, development in social/occupational welfare or preservation of the environment. It is awarded in the name of the emperor.

 

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World Affairs Council Partners With Springfield Public Forum to Present China Program Featuring Hugo Restall

Wall Street Journal Asia's Hugo Restall

Wall Street Journal Asia’s Hugo Restall

The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts is delighted to partner with the Springfield Public Forum to present Hugo Restall, Editorial Page Editor of The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in Asia, who will speak on Why Chinese Are Unhappy on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at CityStage, One Columbus Center (150 Bridge Street) Springfield, Massachusetts.  There will be a cash bar reception at 6:00 p.m. and the program will start at 6:30 p.m.

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This event is free and open to the public.

Originally from Western Massachusetts and currently based in Hong Kong, Hugo Restall edits the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in Asia.  Prior to becoming a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board in 2004, he joined the Asian Journal in April 1994 as an Editorial page writer and subsequently worked as Deputy Editorial page Editor.  Hugo also served as editor of the Far East Eastern Economic Review, a monthly journal of opinion and analysis published in Hong Kong.

We will also be recognizing Springfield area high school students who participated in the World Affairs Council’s Academic WorldQuest competition in January including the local champions, Springfield Renaissance School, who have just returned from competing nationally in Washington, DC at an event hosted by the World Affairs Councils of America.

 

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News from National Academic WorldQuest 2013

Team Renaissance at Academic WorldQuest 2013 in Washington, DC

Emily Conlogue, Zachary Holland, Coach Angela Sullivan, Alternate Elieser Rodriguez, Kyle Richmond-Crosset, and Jesse Lederman at Academic WorldQuest 2013 in Washington, DC

On April 27, 2013, the World Affairs Councils of America presented their 11th Annual Academic WorldQuest competition.  The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts–thanks to sponsors St. Germain Investment Management, Bacon & Wilson, and Rediker Software–sent a team of four students, a student alternate and teacher/coach from Springfield Renaissance High School to compete against 42 other high schools from around the country.

In addition to the competition there was sometime for our team to explore Washington–The National Museum of American History and Ben’s Chili Bowl both got high marks.  On Friday evening the World Affairs Councils of America presented a panel on From Graduation to DC: Paths to a Career in Foreign Policy featuring Kelsey Hartigan, Program Officer, International Program, Nuclear Threat InitiativeAdam Johnson, English Language Officer, International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State, and Associate Director, External Relations, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy; and Jackie Quiñones, Africa Expert, Democratic Staff, House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Bill Clifford, President & CEO of WorldBoston, was the moderator.

The competition took place on the morning of April 17 at Georgetown University.  David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor-at-Large of Foreign Policy, moderated.  In the end Plano West Senior High School representing the World Affairs Council of Dallas Fort Worth emerged from a tie to take the top spot.  Naples Community School fielded by the Naples Council on World Affairs placed second, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond’s Maggie Walker Governor School came in third.

Students from Cairo's Hayah International Academy.

Students from Cairo’s Hayah International Academy.

Following the competition the team members heard from a panel of Egyptian students from Hayah International Academy in Cairo, Egypt, who discussed among other things what the media does not report about life in Egypt, the impact of the revolution on their personal goals, and varying opinions in Egypt regarding the place of religion in the country’s political sphere.

News of the competition was reported out via Twitter and that exchange can be seen at hashtag #AWQ2013, including pictures.

 

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Renaissance High School Preps for Another Trip to Washington for Academic WorldQuest

Council President Gary Breton with the Renaissance Team and Coach at Western New England University

Council President Gary Breton with the Renaissance Team and Coach at Western New England University

On Friday, April 26, a team of five students–four team members, plus an alternate–along with their teacher/coach from Springfield Renaissance High School will head to Washington, DC to represent the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts in the national Academic WorldQuest competition.  The event will take place at Georgetown University and David Rothkopf, CEO and Editor-at-Large of Foreign Policy, will moderate.

Academic WorldQuest ccKyle Richmond-Crossett, Zach Holland, Emily Conlogue and Jesse Lederman won the return to trip in January at the World Affairs Council’s local competition.  The team is coached by teacher Angela Sullivan.

Longmeadow High School came in second, and Wilbraham & Monson Academy (2011 champs) placed third.  The local competition was sponsored by St. Germain Investment Management, Bacon & Wilson, and Rediker Software.

Renaissance Academic WorldQuest Team Accepts Congratulations from the Springfield School Committee

Renaissance Academic WorldQuest Team Accepts Congratulations from the Springfield School Committee

The team received much deserved recognition from the Springfield School Committee on April 11.

Check this website along with our Facebook page and Twitter feed (watch out for hashtag #AWQ2013) for more information about the competition.

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Recent International Visitors Project For English Teachers on American Language

Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski (far right) Leads a Tour of Merriam-Webster. (Photo Credit: Joanne Watson, Merriam-Webster, Inc.)

Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski (far right) Leads a Tour of Merriam-Webster. (Photo Credit: Joanne Watson, Merriam-Webster, Inc.)

The visit was brief but jam packed with activity and the reviews so far have all been great. On Sunday, March 31, a multi-regional group of two dozen English teachers and administrators from 23 countries visiting the US through the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) arrived in Springfield.  The visit was organized by World Learning in Washington, DC.

The trip began with a stop at the home of American poet Emily Dickinson in Amherst.  A mix of business and pleasure, everyone in the group was at least somewhat familiar with Emily Dickinson’s work and delighted to see her home.  One visitor from Bangladesh said, “From now on whenever I teach her work I will feel like Emily Dickinson is in the classroom with me.”

Monday was all business although still a lot of fun.  Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski at Merriam-Webster, Inc. put together a full day of workshops on a variety of relevant topics. The day began with a welcome and brief history of Merriam-Webster from President and Publisher John Morse.  Mr. Morse and Mr. Sokolowksi then lead a tour of the building.

President & Publisher John Morse Reviews Galleys With Visitors

President & Publisher John Morse Reviews Galleys With Visitors

After the tour and a delicious coffee break, Peter Sokolowski presented “Idioms and Usage in a Learner’s Dictionary”.  (Every member of the group was given a copy of Merriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Essential Learner’s English Dictionary to take home with them.)  Director of ELL Publishing Jane Mairs then offered tips on “Teaching Vocabulary”.

Following lunch, the group learned about how to run a spelling bee both in a classroom and on a larger scale.  The members of the group then participated in a spelling bee among themselves.  There was even a sudden death tie breaker between two Visitors before a winner emerged with the word “nausea”.

Spelling Bee Sudden Death Tie-Breaker!

Spelling Bee Sudden Death Tie-Breaker!

In the afternoon Associate Editor Kory Stamper presented more classroom activities using a learner’s dictionary and an astonishingly thorough and entertaining history of English in 45 minutes! (Did you know the first recorded use of the acronym OMG for Oh, My God! was in a letter from British Navy Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher to Winston Churchill in 1917?)

A very special moment happened early on in the proceedings when Mr. Hachime Athie, an English teacher from Mauritania, showed off his copy of a Merriam-Webster French-English Dictionary, which Peter Sokolowski wrote, that was given to Mr. Athie by the African Education Initiative of the US Agency for International Development ten years ago.  “I carry it with me always!” said Mr. Athie.

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