On Monday, October 22, IF Urban had the final Presidential Debate Watch party. The discussion and watch party was held in a room in the Washington Post in Washington DC where participants were engaged in a discussion on foreign policy, specifically Helping Out: Humanitarian Policy for Global Security. To make our discussion even more interesting, I facilitated a discussion in SPANISH, with an interpreter who was translating from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. Despite the translator, I personally challenged myself (as well as the other native English speaking participants at my table) to speak only in Spanish as we discussed our topics. As a part of IF’s continued effort to reach out to the Spanish speaking community, we created an environment where spanish speaking individuals could feel welcomed and express themselves as passionately about issues that affect them as easily as our English speaking participants. Our table consisted of professionals from around the Washington D.C. area including lawyers, journalists, teachers, pubic policy makers, but most importantly included individuals with roots from Jamaica and Mali, Haiti, Guyana and Canada as well as the good ole US of A! As such, there were varying viewpoints on the United States’ role in helping out other countries and how the U.S. foreign policy has affected countries of interest to the participants.
The conversation flowed and initially started with whether the average person even understands foreign policy and how it affects their day to day life. We were educated on what Presidential candidate Romney means when he asserts that “China is a Cheater” and how he feels that China manipulates its currency to encourage more imports to their country from one of our attorney/economist participants. We concerned ourselves about the fact that the U.S. appears to assist some countries more than others and pondered why that was which then had this facilitator wondering, “but where do we draw the line?”. There was an underlying current of “why can’t we all get along” and help each other out so that we can grow as a world nation, but unfortunately, we concluded, that is not to be. After having an engaging and challenging discussion on foreign policy (in Spanish, mind you), along with our catered dinner, we moved our groups into the viewing room to watch the Final Debate.
This debate viewing was notably more quiet, maybe because the candidates were a bit less combative. The group was not sure what to expect since the last Presidential debate was so heated; however, the room of participants appeared fully engaged. At the end of each of these discussions, individuals ALWAYS say how much they enjoyed the discussions and the ability to engage in intellectual conversations with different people. They eagerly await the next event and as IF Urban facilitators, we are eager to oblige.