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Diplomacy in Action

by Kate Dunlop Seamans

Nick Ciarlante '14 went south for spring break, but it wasn't to relax on a sandy beach. Ciarlante, president of the Student Government Association, represented Colby-Sawyer and New Hampshire student government leaders at the American/ Israel Policy Conference (AIPAC) held March 3-6 in Washington, D.C.

The conference, with 13,000 delegates, is the largest annual gathering of the pro-Israel movement in the United States, and Israeli defense and homeland security, foreign aid, the peace process and U.S-Israel relations were on the agenda. Ciarlante was one of 217 student government presidents and 1,600 college students to attend the conference.

Ciarlante enjoyed a welcome dinner for America's Young Political Leaders and a Student Government Presidents Luncheon, and heard from speakers including U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, along with other government leaders and candidates for the U.S. presidency. “It was incredible to see so many people from different political parties, races, religions and ethnicities come together because of the importance of having a strong ally in the Middle East,” says Ciarlante. “I had never heard of AIPAC before I was invited to attend, so the conference was not only an opportunity for me to learn about the importance of the U.S./Israeli alliance and U.S. foreign policy, but also an opportunity to network with thousands of other college students and adults from across the United States.”

Back on campus, Ciarlante shared his experience in the nation's capital in a presentation attended by senior staff members, faculty, staff, students and community members. “Hearing 'Hail to the Chief' played live and watching the president of the United States walk to the lectern was the most exhilarating experience I've ever had,” says Ciarlante. “This conference confirmed my interest in politics. I've already registered to attend next year, when we will look at the progress made and consider how we as a nation and as citizens can continue to strengthen the U.S./Israel alliance.”