Written by Lila Ojha and Reviewed by Sepeedeh Hashemian
It was really a fascinating Global Leadership Forum (GLF) event in Washington D.C. The presence of the US acting deputy Secretary of State (Political Affairs), Wendy Sherman, was remarkable in my life and so too was meeting several diplomats and other VIPs from 98 countries inside the hallowed Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State. The discussions were lively with cross-exchange of various knowledge, ideas and perceptions. Of course, I have learned a lot not only on leadership and climate change issues but also resilience through inspiring personal accounts offered by two Humphrey alumni; Shanta Nagendram (Malaysia) and Agnes Igoye (Uganda).
They spoke vividly about their experiences during their Humphrey years, how community service introduced them to influential people and eased for them finding places for professional affiliation. Can you imagine Igoye got a slot with Clinton Global Initiative, and she has maintained those links active to-date, flying around the world to give speeches at high-level global events?
I also had a nice introduction to many international citizens, who became professional friends, and I would never have met any one of them without the opportunity provided under the Humphrey fellowship.
I really enjoyed speeches by most speakers. I learned more about Hubert H. Humphrey’s background and his exceptional leadership through the Humphrey Legacy session. Mr. Jordan Humphrey, the grandson of Humphrey gave a very impressive talk about his passion for public service.
Importantly, Ms. Jill Geisler, Senior Faculty at the Poynter Institute in Florida was interesting, inspiring and educative. that has made me alert to think about my future professional and personal career path-way more proactively.
Similarly, we also had a regional group conversations on climate change and resilience and made presentations to all the Humphrey fellows on most pressing climate change threats to south Asia. That session was really effective in drawing action-oriented plans to mitigate and adapt to the emerging climate change issues.
Furthermore, the U.S midterm election also had become a hot cake during the GLF session because Republicans took control of Senate besides the House, raising the stakes in how Barack Obama may or may not govern effectively for the remaining two years of his presidential tenure. It also set the tone for the 2016 elections, and with it the debate on whether climate change will still remain a top US government priority under a different administration.
The results for me created many predictions and assumptions about U.S. politics and its future foreign policy.