Portland High School
High School Students attend the Camden Conference — “The Middle East: What Next?”
On the weekend of February 22-24, 2013, seventy-two high school students from eleven high schools in Maine attended the 26th annual Camden Conference on Foreign Affairs to learn from experts about the drama being played out in the Middle East. For 26 years the Camden Conference has presented in-depth issues of international social, political and economic concern. Exceptional national and international speakers from government, the arts, the social sciences, economics and journalism provide information and perceptive on issues of global and national significance. This year experts described current challenges in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Iran, and Libya as these nations adapt to a rapidly changing world. Students and adults engaged in spirited Q&A sessions after each presentation.
At lunch on Saturday, twenty-eight high school students, with their teachers, met at Cappy’s Chowder House to talk about issues that emerged for them from the presentations. The following sample of questions was generated by the students, which became the focus for dialogue among them, a session that was facilitated by a member of the Camden Conference. Students generating these questions were American, Iranian, Somali, Kenyan, Haitian, Burundian, Congolese, Afghan, and Rwandan. The dialogue responses to their questions became one of the most powerful learning experiences during the conference.
- Why is Arabic not taught in US schools, or courses offered to students that educate people on Islamic religions and cultures?
- What would be peaceful ways to settle the issues of repression and freedom, especially in Syria, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine?
- What can US students do to help countries in the Middle East become more democratic and their people experience greater freedom?
- How do you think the map of the Middle East will be reshaped if countries consider the natural lines of religion and ethnicity?
- What will be the impact on Syria if the US does not choose sides or offer arms?