American Students Argue Transatlantic Relations at Think Transatlantic National Finals in Washington

Mar 5, 2013

Two dozen students from across the United States presented their best ideas on how to foster the transatlantic partnership and shared their vision of the future of transatlantic relations in the Think Transatlantic National Finals held in Washington, DC on March 4.

Think Transatlantic winners at the German Historical Institute Enlarge image German Information Center USA Director Holger Ziegeler with the winners of the Think Transatlantic National Finals (from left to right): Heather Painter (Washington & Jefferson College, Third Place, Essay Contest); Dakota Wappes (Ball State University, Second Place, Debate Contest); Sivaram Cheruvu (Rutgers University, First Place, Debate Contest); Meliza Trimidal (University of San Diego, Second Place, Essay Contest); Michael A. Trudeau (Northeastern University, First Place, Essay Contest). (© German Embassy)

This one-day conference and competition, bringing together students from New Jersey to California, marked the point of culmination in the Think Transatlantic Campus Weeks that the German Information Center USA at the German Embassy in Washington DC had sponsored during 2012.

At 30 American partner colleges and universities more than 6.000 students dived deep into German history, German foreign and economic policy, the value of the transatlantic partnership and of course German culture and traditions in the fall 2012 semester. These students, representatives of a generation that, in our globalized world, carries the burden of having many choices acquired a vested interest in Germany and will continue to follow transatlantic developments in the future.

Five lucky winners will travel to Germany

Students hard at work during the essay contest Enlarge image Students hard at work during the essay contest at American University's School of International Service (© German Embassy)

The best of the best from our partner universitites came together on March 4 for the National Finals. The competition was hosted by one of DC’s most outstanding academic institutions, American University’s School of International Service. 24 students competed in debate and essay contests on topics of transatlantic importance, judged by a panel of experts on transatlantic relations.

They were in the running for five grand trips to Germany. One group was writing essays on topics of transatlantic relevance, while another group competed in a lively debate contest that included both individual, five-minute presentations as well as a group debate. They shared their vision of the future of transatlantic relations with us, and did so in a refreshing way.

Germany's education and vocational training system - as mentioned by US President Barack Obama in this year's State of the Union address - received high praise. Germany's track record on boosting jobs and growth by shifting from a reliance on nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewables, known as the "Energiewende" (energy transition), was also emphasized. One of the students, for instance, heralded this as "the three e's" - economy, environment, education.

In turn, another student argued that Germany could learn a lot from the United States when it came to an effective immigration policy of attracting well-qualified immigrants to fill jobs in specific economic sectors, ranging from agriculture to computer programming.

The lucky winners were Sivaram

Group Debate: Sivaram Cheruvu (Rutgers University) Enlarge image Group Debate: Sivaram Cheruvu (Rutgers University) takes to the floor before the jury panel (© German Embassy)

Cheruvu, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, Dakota Wappes, of Ball State University in Indiana, Michael A. Trudeau, of Northeastern Universtiy in Boston, Meliza Trimidal, of the University of San Diego in California, and Heather Painter, of Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

Program also featured tours of Washingtonsights and a festive final reception

In the afternoon, the students participated in several group tours including visits to some of their capital’s most impressive institutions such as the US Capitol, the Library of Congress, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Pentagon.

Group Debate Enlarge image Group Debate (from right to left): Brennan Morris (George Mason University), Brendan McBennett (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dakota Wappes (Ball State University) (© German Embassy)

After all the hard work of straining their brains during the Finals at American University throughout the morning and touring major city sights during the afternoon, the students were feted at a reception at the German Historical Institute.

Friendship and fun came to the fore as a good time was had by all

"It was fantastic," Michael Trudeau said as he looked back on the experience at the festive concluding reception, where everybody celebrated after a long day full of impressions and experiences.

"So many people are focused on the US-China relationship and US relations with the East," said Sivaram Cheruvu, a Junior majoring in political science and history.

"But the United States and Germany should move closer together instead of further apart, because China is rising," he added. "This should be used as a reason to get together ... This is what I argued for in my debate."

Dakota Wappes, who had cited John Kerry's recent visit to Germany as an important benchmark of the significance of transatlantic diplomatic relations, agreed: "There is a place for the transatlantic partnership."

Meanwhile Matthew Taggart, a German major at California State University at Long Beach and an aspiring commercial pilot, said he was just glad he was able to participate in the Think Transatlantic debate competition. "I had so much fun - and I'm not even annoyed I didn’t win - it was a great experience!" he proclaimed. Many of his newfound friends nodded, laughed and agreed. Meanwhile, they will continue to keep in touch via social media, and maybe even meet again someday, somewhere on either side of the Atlantic.

Many of his newfound friends nodded, laughed and agreed. Meanwhile, they will continue to keep in touch via social media, and maybe even meet again someday, somewhere on either side of the Atlantic.

  • The Think Transatlantic campaign aimed to promote dialogue among students via various events related to the German-American partnership including academic conferences, roundtable discussions with transatlantic guest speakers, essay contests, and related cultural festivities. The 2012 Think Transatlantic Campus Weeks culminated in a final national competition held on March 4 in Washington. Through this campaign and many more initiatives, the German Missions in the United States are always working on fostering positive and vibrant transatlantic relations by encouraging both Germans and Americans to 'Think Transatlantic.'
© Germany.info

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Think Transatlantic National Finals Gallery

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The United States is Germany's closest ally outside Europe. By working together, we can address today's toughest global challenges. If we all Think Transatlantic, we can promote peace, prosperity and security across the planet.

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The transatlantic partnership is a basic axiom in German foreign policy. It is no longer merely a matter of security issues, the whole spectrum of global challenges is now the subject of German-US cooperation.

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The primary goal of German foreign policy is to help preserve peace and security in the world. The expanded concept of security covers not only questions of conflict prevention, defense, disarmament and arms controls, but also economic, ecological, social and human rights issues.

Think Transatlantic National Finals at American University

Think Transatlantic National Finals at American University

Think Transatlantic banners at American University's School of International Service

American University (AU) - School of International Service (SIS)

American University (AU) - School of International Service (SIS)