Immediately upon returning home, I was hit over and over with the questions, "so, how was it?" and "what was your favorite part?" I was surprised how hard those questions really were, and realized that it had been such an experience that had changed me enough that it was going to take some time to let things sink in and reflect on what really happened while in
But was it a worthwhile trip? Absolutely. It just takes some time to find the right words.
I didn't have too many expectations coming into the experience, mainly because I really had no idea what to expect. I had little idea what our daily experience would be like, and so I had to make myself ready to just go with the flow. That's hard for me, but I was successful to the extent that I was surprised by how things went down. I knew our week would include some interviews of various APEC and ABAC (the APEC Business Advisory Council) officials and various business leaders from around the Asia-Pacific region, but I didn't know what to expect from the conference itself.
We were fortunate enough to be present during the CEO Summit for the addresses by the various heads of state and heads of government representing their nations at APEC. We were able to listen to Secretary of State Rice, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Chinese President Hu Jintao, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Australian Prime Minister John Howard...and the list goes on. It was truly an amazing experience to hear all of those voices, too often blurred together in the static of international relations, to be talking with one voice about free trade, the Asia-Pacific, and the future. We all (these leaders and we the student of Voices) bring different issues to the table and different reasons why there will be no easy answers to truly uniting our voices, but a forum like APEC shows that we are trying, and that is sometimes all that we can do. The Economist published an article during APEC’s Leaders’ Week criticizing the forum for too much talk and too little action. It is fortunate that globalization is becoming an accepted position in world economic relations, but we cannot assume that the train will inevitably reach the station. But we have seen the WTO stall, and our hope is that a more measured body like APEC, working with consensus, can break the globalization stalemate of today.
I was struck by the stark beauty and shocked by some of the conditions of