Voices students at ABAC Dinner

APEC 2008

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2008
Lima, Peru
November 16-22, 2008

In November 2008, five Furman seniors and two professors boarded a plane for Lima, Peru to attend the Leadership Week of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The group was comprised of political science majors Abby Elsener, Rachael Parrish, and Matt Springate, along with economics majors Emily Hunter and Evelyn McKinney. Dr. Cleve Fraser from the Department of Political Science and Dr. Nathan Cook from the Department of Economics served as the group’s educators. To view the students’ blog, click here.

The trip was facilitated through the Virtual Trade Mission Foundation. As participants in the “Voices of the Future” program, the Furman students balanced business with tourism, attending press conferences with important business and government officials, sitting in on the Business Advisory Council’s meetings, and attending the APEC Leaders summit, which included public addresses by heads of state from most member economies. Additionally, the Furman delegation dined on traditional Peruvian cuisine, toured the ruins of Parracha and the government palace in Lima, and interacted with other students from around the Asia-Pacific region.

The Furman delegation attended meetings of the APEC Business Advisory Council at Los Delfines hotel discussing business conditions and the implications of the current global economic crisis. Students were able to congregate outside the meetings and conduct group interviews with the CEOs as they exited. Furman student Emily Hunter was able to sit alongside Mr. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba Inc. (CEO of the Asian equivalent of EBay), who was one of the youngest, most successful, and most respected business representatives attending the conference. According to Hunter, Mr. Ma remarked that the “crisis of today is an opportunity for tomorrow.” Hunter also interviewed U.S. APEC Ambassador Patricia Haslach and Canadian Senior Official John Sloan.

The delegation also interacted with ABAC members at the international media center where Furman students were given press credentials and allowed to attend and participate in question and answer sessions with businessmen and government officials. As Peru’s most important crop, 2008 was coined the “Year of the Potato.” Matt Springate attended a presentation on potatoes and their importance in Peru’s economy. Headliners of press conferences also included the Peruvian Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Economy and Finance from Chinese Taipei.

The Peruvian population was very receptive to the student group and took active interest in their participation. Abby Elsener was interviewed by the publication “El Comercio” and CPN Radio, and Rachael Parrish was interviewed by a European news source about their experience as students at the conference.

The week culminated in the APEC Leaders Summit. The delegation was able to attend as members of the press. On the first day, addresses were made by Peruvian President Alan Garcia, Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key, and Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd. Matt Springate and Rachael Parrish were questioned by Chinese secret service to validate their credentials prior to the address by President Hu Jintao of China. On the closing day, the Furman delegation returned to the summit to hear the address by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada.

Press Coverage

An editorial submitted to The Greenville News penned by Matt Springate