By Sauvé Scholars 2008-2009

In early March, six Sauvé Scholars travelled to St. Johnsbury, Vermont as guests of the Colwell Center for Global Understanding. Engaging with students, faculty and community members about key international issues, the Scholars enjoyed the rich exchange of ideas and the beautiful Vermont landscape.

On March 6th the scholars spent the day running workshops and leading discussions with high school students at St. Johnsbury Academy. Evgeniy Pak led discussions about the economics of healthcare. He presented his impressions of healthcare systems in Canada, the United States and Kyrgyzstan. After introducing students to some of the basic principles of Public Health, Evgeniy engaged them in a discussion about who should pay for healthcare and the many costs of running a complex system. Together Ed Vainker and Evgeniy also provided students with insight into what it’s like to work in education and health professions. The students asked thoughtful questions as Ed and Evgeniy provided recommendations for trying different types of work and exploring what professions they may enjoy.

Tomer Avital challenged students in his classes to become journalists for an hour. After describing a hypothetical neighborhood dispute, Tomer coached the students through the process of finding a story angle, contacting sources and selecting a headline. Over the course of the workshop students learned about ‘peace journalism’ and the potential for the media to help solve conflicts instead of escalate tensions. The students, who represented multiple nationalities, discussed the influence of the media in their own countries. Together Giovanni Gabassi and Tomer answered questions about the origins of conflict in the Middle East. Giovanni also shared stories from his experience in the whimsical world of multilateral diplomacy and used allegory to explain the basic tenets of a win-win negotiated solution. When asked to reflect on his personal path, Giovanni explained his root motivation for pursuing a career in international affairs by recounting his teenage experience in a city on the edge of collapsing Yugoslavia.

Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Elizabeth Kistin visited numerous classes throughout the day to discuss issues related to climate change and resource management. The duo fielded fantastic questions from English, Biology and History classes and provided some insight into challenges of water governance in changing circumstances and the importance of local action as well as interdisciplinary understanding.

In the evening, the Scholars enjoyed a tasty potluck supper hosted by students at the Colwell Center before heading back to the library for a presentation by Marie-Marguerite and Elizabeth. Attended by faculty, students and community members, the presentation on “Climate Change and Transboundary Water Management” sparked an energetic discussion about the challenges of managing uncertainty, the prospects for international cooperation and problem solving, and our personal and collective responsibilities to take action.

The Scholars are extremely grateful to our host Glenn Ehrean of the Social Studies Faculty for his kind invitation and incredible hospitality throughout our stay.