Two Severna Park High seniors have been dazzling an international crowd of college students and professors at a conference on foreign affairs this week at the United States Naval Academy.
Though they are at least four years and several dozen textbooks behind their peers at the conference, the panel moderator says the only problems HeatherGomes and Andrea Campbell have had during weighty discussions about education, trade, democracy and weapons policies in China has been getting them to speak up more.
"They've been doing great. I've tried to get them to express themselves more because they've had some really good ideas, and I think they may feel intimidated," explained Midshipman David Eisenhauer, whohas been leading panel discussions on "China's Immobility" all week.
Eisenhauer said the essay Gomes submitted in preparation for the conference was "clearly one of the best he's seen."
"I would be interested to follow her progress through college. She has the most clear writing style, in terms of readability, and organization. There were absolutely no breaks in logic or her thought train throughout the essay," Eisenhauer said.
Gomes, who plans to study psychology at either Vassar or George Washington University, explained that her essay "Paralysis or Progress?" questions whether the people of China really want democratic change or if that idea is merely an American myth based on the Tiananmen Square movement. She says the movement and thesubsequent June 1989 crackdown had a minimal effect on the bulk of China's billion people.
Campbell, who plans to double major in electrical engineering and political science at Virginia Tech University, agrees with Gomes. She was vocal about it yesterdayduring a lengthypanel debate over how Chinese-American student exchange programs canpromote reform in China.
Fifteen college professors and students from Australia, Taiwan, China and throughout the United States were haggling over how to teach democracy to Chinese college students without offending the Chinese government, when Campbell spoke up to tell her elders they were all off track.
"If the country is going to move at all toward democracy, you're going to have to educate more than just the college students," Campbell said, putting forward the suggestion that faculty exchanges would have more impact.
The group adopted her suggestion.
Marrianne Gray, coordinator for the county school system's Gifted and Talented Program, who has been attending the conferences with Gomes, Campbell and 22 other county students, said she's been "gloating all week" because organizers have beencomplimenting county students so much.
"I think the people of Anne Arundel County should know how well these students have been representing them at this conference," Gray said.
The two Severna Park seniors were nominated to join the 230 delegates from 15 countries and 180 prestigious colleges and universities by their political science and historyteacher Edward Ulrich.
The foreign affairs conference, this year,titled "Beyond Bloc Politics," is an annual event at the academy designed to expose Navy upperclassmen to the rigors of planning and moderating a civilian forum on international affairs.
The annual foreign affairs conference, which features keynote addresses and advice from luminaries in the media, government, academia, the armed services,the diplomatic corps and industry is the academy's biggest event outside of Commissioning Week every May.