Peyton Roth ’19 had known for a while he’d be serving as master of ceremony for the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Voices of the Future Opening Ceremony, but he wasn’t nervous. That is, until he boarded a plane with four other Furman students bound for Da Nang, Vietnam.
Then reality began to set in.
“We all realized, hey, this is actually happening. We’re U.S. student delegates to this really big conference, and the work that we’re going to be doing is important,” Roth, a political science/chemistry double major from Woodstock, Georgia, said. “That humbled us … I would say the moment I felt the most nervous was 30 minutes before I started as emcee. There were a couple of changes in script and events throughout the day, and I was trying to learn the proper pronunciations of different names.”
Established in 1989, APEC is an organization comprised of economies from Asia and the Pacific Rim with a mission to gather the 21 members together annually to discuss trade and economic and technical cooperation.
“The multilateral cultural aspect to this trip is so unique, and that was really important for me and my development,” Roth says.
Joining Roth as the only undergraduates representing the United States at the conference, which was held Nov. 5-11, were seniors Emma Jackson, Kathleen Marsh, Liam Simkins-Walker and Noah Zimmermann. Cleve Fraser, professor of politics and international affairs, and economics professor Nathan Cook also made the trip.
Jackson was selected for a leadership role as well, serving as the moderator of the Q&A session with keynote speaker and former United Nations Under-Secretary Noeleen Heyzer, while Simkins-Walker delivered a presentation, and Marsh worked to produce a youth declaration from the group.
“One person was designated to be the declaration writer from each economy. We all had to get together–native speakers and non-native speakers–and write a cohesive and coherent document from everybody contributing, all 120 of us,” Marsh, an economics and Spanish double major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, said.
The first day was devoted to a youth forum, while the second was spent exploring Da Nang. The conference wrapped up with three intense days observing and interviewing government officials and international business leaders.
Their participation marked Furman’s 11th straight year at APEC, made possible through the Riley Institute and its ongoing efforts to promote awareness of international affairs and international involvement. Executive Director Don Gordon, a professor in Furman’s department of politics and international affairs since 1969, says the exceptional preparation and performance of Furman students is the reason they’re invited back year after year.
“They are comfortable in this environment of multiple cultures, and they represent Furman in an incredibly sophisticated way. I’m always amazed at how well our students operate in the many circumstances that confront them,” he said. “I think that is a great representation of The Furman Advantage, because our kids travel around the world on Furman’s study away programs.”
Read the delegates’ blog.