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Gaddi Vasquez speaks to conference attendees.

Campus and community members listen as Gaddi Vasquez, U.S. ambassador and former Peace Corps director, speaks during the April 2008 International Conference. During the two-day program attendees listened to panel discussions, guest speakers and international entertainment. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Dignitaries from Around the World Take Part in "Connecting Worlds"

Debates on Global Issues, Including Hunger, Economic Development and Health Care

April 22, 2008

By Valerie Orleans

Gaddi Vasquez, U.S. ambassador and former Peace Corps director, gives a keynote address. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Last week, about 500 people attended the various conference sessions that made up the two-day international conference "Connecting Worlds" held on campus.

Among those speaking at the event was keynote speaker Gaddi Vasquez, eighth United States representative to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organizations, who discussed the issue of world hunger.

"His speech was especially timely because of the rising costs of food, world-wide," said Lissa Camacho, event coordinator. "This has led to a crisis in several countries. The ambassador focused on efforts from the United States and other nations to help countries that are struggling with severe food shortages."

Wang Shenghong, president of Fudan University, was the keynote speaker for the second day. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Other presenters included President Wang Shenghong of China's Fudan University, who discussed public health care in his country, as well as China's goal to provide universal health care to its citizens. Richard Wilcox, director of International Programs from Germany's Nürtingen-Geislingen University, focused on how universities can reach across borders to one another to work together cooperatively. According to Wilcox, understanding another's language is not enough — there needs to be an understanding of one another's culture.

"The objective of the conference was to help students, faculty, staff and members of the community gain a global perspective on issues of global importance," Camacho said. "For that reason, we focused on issues such as world hunger, economic development, health care and other key topics.

Among those attending the conference was a delegation from Fudan University. Photo by Patrick O'Donnell

"Overall, I was pleased with the interest and audience participation. I thought our speakers and panelists provided great insight into some of the world's challenges and some of the obstacles that many countries face. It also was inspiring to hear about the efforts of so many to reduce suffering in the world."

Attendees were treated to cultural performances, including “Changing Face” by Liu Xiaoren. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

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