Dear Council Leaders, Supporters, and Friends:
Last month's massacre at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, makes this much plain:
1. America is first in the world, by a longshot and for far too long, when it comes to mass shootings in "civil" society.
2. America is not focusing enough on our kids - in general or in this gruesome particular. Fortunately, however, we have the surviving Parkland teens to teach us all a thing or two about poise and common sense.
It's all about the kids. And as I consider not only guns but these chaotic times - in which dictators like China's Xi win praise from a U.S. administration, populism is rampant and fraying Western democracies, trade protectionism is on the rise, and the risk of great power conflict is increasing - the kids are on my mind.
This is why this month's Council of the Month is Montana World Affairs Council: for today, MWAC opened its two-day Academic WorldQuest 2018 program - the most robust in the country - and the attention to these students' futures is affirming.
Held at the University of Montana campus, the statewide program and competition goes far beyond the 10 AWQ categories. The United States Institute of Peace, WACA's national AWQ partner, will present a student workshop on "Conflict Management in Global Affairs" as well as a for-credit teacher workshop on "Teaching Peacebuilding for Active Global Citizens." High school students will also enjoy a UM international student panel.
Keynote speakers are superlative: Helana Mayor Wilmot Collins, a Liberian-born American politician who is the first black person to be elected mayor of any Montana city in the state's history; Ambassador Max Baucus will deliver the State of the World Address at MWAC's Global Educator of the Year Banquet; Lt. Governor Mike Cooney will emcee the AWQ competition; and former State Senate Majority Leader Carol Williams will conclude the AWQ Awards Ceremony.
Kudos to MWAC's Board, particularly Charlie Oliver and Shelley Geiszler, and former Executive Director Aubrie Lyons for laying the groundwork over many years to refine their Academic WorldQuest program recipe. Aubrie's successor, Janet Rose, is well-positioned to build on this legacy of excellence.
The Montana kids will get to show what they know and likely will teach the adults a thing or two about world and national affairs. It's all about the kids.
Bill Clifford, President and CEO