International Speaker Series: Spiraling Hopes for US-China Relations (Student Perspective: UNC Charlotte)

Last ThursdaDSC05972y, seventy UNC Charlotte students got the unique opportunity to hear from Dr. Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Road Island.

Proficient in both Russian and Chinese, Dr. Goldstein is also very well versed in all things having to do with US–China relations and has authored and co-authored a fair share of books regarding the matter including China’s Future Nuclear Submarine Force (2007), China’s Energy Strategy: The Impact on Beijing’s Maritime Policies (2008), China Goes to Sea: Maritime Transformation in a Comparative Historical Context (2009), China, the US and 21st Century Sea Power:  Defining a Maritime Partnership (2010) and Chinese Aerospace Power:  Evolving Maritime Roles (2011). His latest book, Meeting China Halfway: How to Defuse the Emerging US-China Rivalry, discusses Dr. Goldstein’s ideas on the budding tensions between the two countries as well as his ideas on how these tensions could be handled in a proactive and beneficial way – for both countries involved. While time was limited, Dr. Goldstein managed to fit a large amount of content and discussion into the conversation with the students. He urged students to understand the need for cultural understanding and education, as well as a sense of diplomacy and negotiation between the two countries.

Goldstein DSC05976makes his case by urging students to take Chinese voices seriously and proposing ten “cooperation spirals” that outline step-by-step approaches for resolving the seemingly intractable problems in US-China relations. Through these Cooperation spirals, Goldstein believes that trust between the two countries will slowly begin to be built and that these incremental and reciprocal steps will gradually lead to larger and more significant compromises over time.

In addressing economic relations, Goldstein argues that economic interdependence does not preclude conflict. He pointed out that before Pearl Harbor, America was Japan’s leading trade partner and that before World War I, Europe had a large amount of economic interdependence. With this in mind, Goldstein warns of mistaking high levels of trade as an indication of lessening economic tension between the US and China.

The topic of discussion sparked many questions from the students, ranging from how Dr. Goldstein got interested in the politics of China to legitimate concerns on the threat that China could pose to the security of the United States.

“I think it’s worth asking – Do we [Americans] understand China as well as they understand us?” – Dr. Goldstein

After the discussion, many students stayed to discuss the ideas presented by Dr. Goldstein, bringing up concerns with the probability of successful negotiations between the two countries, and the multi-faceted approach suggested by Dr. Goldstein to reaching those peaceful resolutions.

DSC05978Throughout the entire conversations, Dr. Goldstein could not stress enough the necessity for college students to be eager to understand the relationship between the two, as he said, “largest economies in the world”, and the need to have conversations regarding the steps that both countries must take to start to come to a mutual understanding. After seeing how involved the students were in the topic, even after the conversation had ended, I would say that he was successful in creating that dialogue that he saw to be so important.

Written by Justin Kramer, Senior, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern) 

Welcome and Introduction: Justin Kramer, UNC Charlotte (Fall 2015 Intern)

justinkramerAfter volunteering with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for the past two years, I realized that the work they do and the initiative to foster global citizenship through education was exactly the type of work I was passionate about.

As a graduating senior from the University of North Carolina Charlotte triple majoring in Political Science, my International and Global Area Studies, and German, in addition to my involvement with the university’s Model United Nations program as president this past year, it became obvious that global awareness is something that I am very passionate about. Through the Model United Nations program I have been able to travel all over the world – Visiting places like Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo, Japan; Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France.

My specific interest in my International and Global Area Studies has been focused around peace and conflict resolution; studying primarily the effects nationalism has on peace processes. Through these studies, I grew to become very interested in the many factors of German culture and decided to study in Germany. In the summer of 2015 I lived in Hamburg and studied at the Goethe Institute, but traveling throughout Germany to immerse myself in as much of the different cultures as possible. While there I also had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain; Venice, Italy; and Vienna, Austria.

In my free time you can find me practicing piano, playing with my two and a half year old Siberian Husky, Akamaru, or practicing martial arts.

I am looking forward to the new knowledge I will gain from interning with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, and learning about the many international relationships that are present in Charlotte. It is my hope that after I finish this internship, new doors will be open that will allow me to continue furthering myself as a global citizen.

2014-2015 Council Scholar: Trish Boulanger, Cannon School

trishI spent a total of two weeks in Haiti with the organization Volunteers For Peace. I primarily led a summer camp with three other volunteers for about 45 children aged 10-17, which took place in a very simple concrete/metal roof structure. Having the opportunity to teach in the rural village of Duchity was truly unique and I am extremely grateful to the World Affairs Council of Charlotte for awarding me this opportunity. I would also like to thank UNC Charlotte, Carolinas HealthCare System and Wells Fargo for supporting the 2014-2015 Council Scholar Award Program.

My days began at roughly 8 am with breakfast. Camp ran from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. Monday through Friday. I participated in the second session which ran from July 20th-31st. I taught an English lesson from 9-10 followed by arts and crafts activities as well as games from 10-11. The last hour was held on the soccer field, where we exchanged through play and also had the opportunity to be with the younger group of children aged 5-10.

Afternoons were spent doing cultural activities with the other volunteers and our Haitian leaders, such as going to the outdoor market stalls or hiking to the village water source, or simply playing cards with some of our students. We were completely immersed in the village and the Haitian lifestyle.

While I did my best to learn as much Haitian Creole as possible before and during my stay, it was sometimes difficult to communicate. I do believe, however, that my fluency in French gave me a clear advantage over the other volunteers and allowed me to have a much more rewarding experience. I met several Haitians with excellent French and the others that I worked with spoke English well enough.

This experience has made a huge impact on me, both professionally and personally. Living and working in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere definitely gave me a new perspective on my own life. I can no longer take something as simple as disinfecting and bandaging cuts and scrapes for granted. And I am confident that the time and energy I gave had a positive influence on the children. Seeing girls wearing the donated dresses was wonderful and hearing them use the vocabulary they learned at camp was incredible. The smiles on their faces at a party on our final day were unforgettable. Overall, it was a wonderful cultural exchange. I look forward to sharing my experience with the Cannon School community.

WELCOME: Introducing Kristina Drye, WACC Programs & Membership Manager & Tolkien Enthusiast

kristinapicture1Kristina Drye grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a C.C. Cameron and Provost Scholar and a Fowler Scholar. She graduated from the Honors College and with Political Science Honors as a double-major in International Studies and Political Science and a minor in Russian in May of 2015.

Since her freshman year of college, she has participated significantly in Model UN, including travel to Seoul, South Korea; Brussels, Belgium; Melbourne, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France for international conferences. She served once as President and twice as Vice President Internal for her university’s internationally ranked Model UN program, and was responsible for training new delegates throughout her time there, as well as serving as a delegate herself at over twenty conferences.

Kristina has worked as a Communications Assistant for the University’s Research Communications department as well as serving as the Social Media Coordinator for the Urban Education Collaborative, where she also helped to coordinate the first biennial International Conference on Urban Education held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She also previously interned for the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and International House of Charlotte.

In addition to these activities, Kristina has traveled extensively abroad. She lived in Ibague, Colombia during the summer of 2014, where she worked with the University de Tolima to facilitate English and cultural literacy classes with local foundations. She recently completed the American University of Bosnia and Hercegovina’s Summer Peace and Conflict Program, during which she lived in Sarajevo for two months and earned fifteen hours of Master-level credits; her senior thesis on the topic, “Mapping Peace Processes in the Former Yugoslavia” was awarded the Atkins Library Undergraduate Research Award.

In addition to international affairs, Kristina is passionate about education policy. During the summer of 2013, Kristina served as a UNC Charlotte Summer Research Scholar. Her research, “Education Access and Equality in Urban Schools: a Focus on Course Enrollment Trends in K-12 Settings” was awarded first place in the UNC Charlotte Research Conference Departmental Awards in April 2014. She has presented twice at the annual WorldView Symposium in Chapel Hill.

In addition to her work with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Kristina also serves as a staff member of the Southern Regional Model UN conference hosted in Atlanta, Georgia.

Kristina loves to read, write, bake, and, most importantly, enjoys all things Tolkien and R.R. Martin.

Welcome: Introduction – Rakia Mahan (Fall 2015 Intern)

With20150206_150847 the World Affairs Council of Charlotte training me for my future career, I expect to soar to new heights. Through global and international exposure I have become more aware of the world around me.

I grew up in a predominantly African American community in Birmingham, Alabama. Most of my peers dressed and behaved in the same manner, and had similar outlooks on life. After I graduated from middle school, my mom and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in search of a new opportunities and a different environment. To my surprise there was a world of ideologies, ethnicities, cultures, and personalities I never knew existed. As a result of the move, I rediscovered my passion – writing. I graduated with honors from Mallard Creek High School and hoped to pursue a degree in Communication Studies.

During  my freshmen and sophomore years, I attended Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. I entered the African American Excellence program and worked for the Multicultural Affairs Office, where I fell in love with public speaking and the Japanese language. I was so determined to learn Japanese that I took personal lessons once a week while taking required Spanish courses at the same time.

After my two years at Mary Baldwin, I transferred to UNC Charlotte. This was the most amazing decision I could have ever made because it allowed me to pursue my interests in other cultures and love for foreign languages. Here, I immersed myself in participating in Japanese club activities, language learning and cultural exchange.  My experiences were great, but I wanted more. While declaring an official major, I discovered that I could combine my passion for speaking, writing, and the Japanese language. I became an International Public Relations major with a double minor in International Studies and Japanese language.

I aspire to practice Public Relations in the international department of a company whose ideas I wholeheartedly support. Because I love diversity, this internship with the World Affairs Council of Charlotte is exactly where I need to be.

Council Scholar 2014-2015: Allison Tarwater, Butler High School (Spain and Portugal)

From peaceful, whitewashed villages where time stands still to ornate mosques and palaces that reawaken the majesty of the Moorish past, my discoveries in Spain and Portugal were framed by a coast and country side of exquisite beauty. On the journey that led me through modern cities and medieval towns filled with architectural wonders, I encountered a welcoming people who are devoted to their proud heritage and eager to share the joys of a vibrant culture.

Since I learned of the Council Scholar Program, I researched many travel programs and destinations in my excitement to continue growing in the Spanish language and learning of new places and cultures. I finally pinpointed my desire to explore more of the Iberian Peninsula. Through this trip with Grand Circle Travel, I spent multiple days exploring regions of Spain, listening to various accents and seeing not only the Spanish influence on art and architecture, but that of the Romans and Moors as well. I was eager to encounter both the new and vibrant areas as well as the older more hidden treasures Spain has to offer. I also briefly visited Lisbon, Portugal a country I have only studied but never seen.

As in all my travels, I am constantly reminded of my desire to learn and enhance my cultural knowledge. I am drawn to opportunities to study and travel abroad not only so that I can become more knowledgeable, but so that I can take my experiences back into my classroom. Thank you to Wells Fargo, Carolinas HealthCare System and UNC Charlotte for your support of this amazing program for educators. By participating in this particular program, I am able to teach my students about diversity and inclusion; therefore encouraging them to become open-minded thinkers able to explore, accept, and foster racial and cultural differences. As open-minded individuals, my students can make important contributions to our multicultural society that positively impact our society’s changing cultural demographics.

Marcel Proust the French novelist observed that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” He realized that by working with other people we learn about their cultures and become able to explore new ideas and prospects. Options that would not have occurred to us before stand out as obvious if we understand how other people experience the world. This is why I believe it is so important for me as a classroom teacher to have a deeper global awareness and understanding of other cultures.

Having had this experience, I have gained authentic materials that I can use to introduce and present ideas and topics that provide my students with a better cultural understanding of the target language. Furthermore, a healthy balance of language activities that improve communicative skills and that focus on the development of cultural understanding is especially important when integrating language and culture. By socializing and visiting with Spaniards, I encountered new accents and new vocabulary that I can use to enhance the curriculum at any level of instruction. The variety of accents and vocabulary are concepts that make Spanish (or any language) a living language and help stimulate curiosity in my students and a desire to explore and interact with the world.

At the school and district level I want to encourage my colleagues to take advantage of the Council Scholar Program. With limited resources and a desire to be life-long learners, it is programs like this that allow teachers to experience the world outside of their classrooms and bring the world back to their students. Not only will I share pictures and realia (objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to the real life especially of peoples studied) that teachers can use in their classes, but I will spark a desire in the staff to travel and collect their own stories and authentic materials. In addition, with the use of the new curriculum, and the process of leaving behind the textbook, we are in desperate need of authentic materials for instruction. Since the last time that I traveled abroad, our curriculum has changed. On this trip, keeping in mind the Unit topics for Spanish, I paid special attention to those concepts in my travels and sought out materials that can be used and manipulated for classroom instruction as well as hands-on activities.


Pictures taken on my trip: Starting in the top left – Hilltop view of Ronda, Plaza de los leones in Granda, La Mezquita in Cordoba, and Churros and Chocolate in Madrid.

Iran Nuclear Talks: Is This The End Game?

800px-Iran_Talks_14_July_2015_(19680862152)(Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons)

For decades, the international community has been living in fear of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The West has shown its frustration in the clandestine nuclear operations stemming from Tehran by establishing extensive economic sanctions against Iran. This summer, however, the world has been anxiously awaiting a deal to come from negotiations between Iran and six world powers (P5+1) in Vienna. Failing to meet deadline after deadline, it appeared to many that the diplomatic process would fail to result in any meaningful agreement between the two sides, but President Obama announced last Tuesday that a landmark deal has been reached.

Although Western powers like the US, France, and Germany once provided assistance and even a nuclear reactor to Iran for the purpose of developing nuclear energy, opposition to its nuclear program led by the US broadened after Iran’s Islamic Revolution and its role in the hostage crisis gave way to doubts about the peaceful intent of the program. This opposition quickly drove the program underground, though it continued to grow as the more nuclear-friendly Ayatollah Khamenei took power.

Over the years, Iran has built a vast network of enrichment plants, conversion sites, and research reactors, all of which the country attributes to nuclear energy usage despite vast, incriminating evidence that it has its sights set on building nuclear weapons. In August 2002, a London-based Iranian opposition group disclosed details about a secret heavy-water production plant at Arak. In 2003, the IAEA first reported that Iran had not disclosed sensitive enrichment and reprocessing materials. The CIA in 2008 discovered Iran’s Green Salt project, a secret uranium-processing program which featured high-explosives testing. Finally, in February of 2010, Iran announced plans to heighten the enrichment levels of existing uranium stockpiles, prompting president Ahmadinejad to declare the country to be a “nuclear state.” Iran has consistently denied its intentions to develop a nuclear arsenal despite this kind of damning evidence and various findings by inspectors like the IAEA, who in February of 2010 confirmed Iran’s nuclear capabilities and its plans for building a missile-ready warhead.

The UN Security Council began imposing sanctions in 2006 after Iran refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program, though the US and EU join the Council in attempting to cut off global economic ties to Iran. These sanctions have been at least partly successful, prompting Iran to join the negotiating table in hopes for a reprieve on many of them. Last week’s negotiations mark the culmination of these talks, as the P5+1 and Iran have reached a deal that would prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. Iran is set to dismantle most of its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for a suspension or cancellation of the various sanctions brought upon the country by the UN, EU, and US.

In Obama’s address to the public, he claimed that the deal will eliminate “every pathway” for Tehran to build nuclear weapons and said the deal demonstrates how American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change. He added that the deal will implement an inspection and transparency regime in Iran and will eliminate the possibility of Iran producing the highly-enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium necessary for a nuclear bomb. Specifically, the deal requires Iran to remove 2/3 of its installed centrifuges, machines to produce highly-enriched uranium, and prohibits Iran from using its centrifuges to produce highly-enriched uranium for 10 years. Iran will also get rid of 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium for 15 years, alter its major nuclear reactor in Arak so it will not produce weapons-grade plutonium, and will not build any new heavy water reactors within the same time frame. Throughout his speech, Obama made it clear that this deal will not rely on trust of Iran and its government but rather on verification by outside officials and inspectors who will assure that Iran complies with the agreement. These transparency measures will be in place for 25 years, and they allow inspectors from the IAEA 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities.

Although a nuclear deal with Iran seems long overdue to many, it has not been met with universal acclaim. Critics include many in Congress, primarily Republicans, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who claims the deal is a “capitulation.” To be sure, the deal is not perfect. The agreement has given into many of Iran’s demands in that the West will essentially eliminate its sanctions, an action that will empower Iran economically, perhaps giving the country the wealth it needs to continue to covertly build its nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, the deal will only temporarily stop Iran’s nuclear operations and will almost assuredly require further negotiation in the near future, for many of the actions Iran will take to dismantle its program are only mandated for the next 10-25 years.

Perhaps the most glaring omitted element of the agreement is that Iran’s major nuclear facilities remain in place, infrastructure critical to its nuclear capabilities. Obama will have only 60 days to convince a skeptical congress to accept this deal, though he has promised that he will veto any attempt to undermine its implementation. The world unanimously agrees that the deal from Vienna is historic, but the verdict is still out on its potential efficacy. For now, its future remains uncertain, and the international community must again wait to see how events in Washington play out.

Written by Cole Blum, Sophmore, UNC Chapel Hill (WACC Intern – Summer 2015)