Our students are always involved in study abroad, immersion learning, and other smaller and individual experiences which help them uniquely shape their Wabash education. We’ve recently had small groups of students in Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, attending conventions.
Student body president Cody Stipes was invited to attend the 2010 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in D.C. Here is his summary of the experience.
Cody Stipes ’11 - I was in Washington, D.C. Mar. 20-21 for the 2010 AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference. I was one of 213 Student Government Presidents from across the country in attendance at the conference on a full scholarship through the generosity of AIPAC.
It was an amazing trip where I was able to learn so much about the relationship between America and Israel. I always knew the relationship between the two countries was important; I just never realized how important! The four-day conference involved multiple breakout sessions from learning more about the foreign policy of America and Israel to how one can improve the political activism happening in their community.
I also had the privilege of hearing distinguished men and women like Senator Evan Bayh, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, former Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The biggest highlight of the conference was the Gala Banquet on Monday night. Over half of the members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate were in attendance dinner where Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke. I literally stood about 30 yards away from the Prime Minister as he addressed nearly 8,000 people who were at the banquet. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing and something I will never forget!
One of the major advantages to attending the conference was the ability to make connections with the other 212 Student Government Presidents from across the country. I was able to meet so many great men and women from schools in all 50 states. On Saturday night, they set up a dinner just for the SGA (Student Government Association) Presidents and a dessert session to allow us to mingle. During the time, many of us were introducing ourselves and then trying to figure out which state the student was from.
But the cool thing for me was that I had 5 or 6 students respond by saying, “Oh, you go to Wabash. You guys have that big endowment!” or “You guys have that national study that shows why our school stinks and your school rocks, right?” I tried to play down the part about how the survey was about how their school stunk and how ours rocked, but inside I was nodding my head in agreement. It was really interesting how students from all over the country knew about Wabash. It just reemphasized how notable our institution is across the country.
I was really excited for the trip because I had never visited D.C. before. I promised myself that I would definitely not let the opportunity slip away. I traveled all over the city, visiting the Capital, WWII Memorial, Korea War Memorial, Lincoln Monument, Washington Monument, FDR Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and, of course, the White House. I feel in love with the White House! I literally visited the White House every day I was there. I’m pretty sure by the fourth day Secret Service was wondering what I was doing.
It was also really interesting to be in D.C. during the Health Care debate and the passage of the legislation. On Sunday, I decided to visit the Capital to see what was taking them so long, but I was met by thousands of people protesting … the immigration bill, not Health Care. Trust me, plenty of people were protesting for and against Health Care, but not the majority of people around the Capital.
After visiting there for a while, I decided to take a short taxi ride to the Lincoln Monument. Once I got out of the taxi, I was admiring the beauty of the monument when I heard a helicopter overhead. I looked up and was shocked to see Marine One flying over the Potomac River. It was one of those moments when you stop and go, “Did that just happen?” Hundreds of people turned to take pictures, but the helicopter was so fast that very few were able to get off pictures before it was gone. The city was beautiful, especially at night, and I definitely will have to go back soon to see all of the other sights I missed.
I cannot thank the men and women of AIPAC enough for the opportunity to attend this conference, learn so much about the American Israel relationship, and have the opportunity to learn and share so many interesting aspects about the multiple Student Governments across the country. I was honored to represent Wabash at this conference and enjoyed my time very much. Washington is definitely a city everyone needs to visit!