Cross-Cultural Conversation

Political science major Gerry Regep '18 attended the Student Council on U.S. Affairs at West Point. (Photo provided)

November 28, 2016

By Matt Hawkins

Students across the globe, including Bradley political science major Gerry Regep ’18, discussed pressing international concerns for four days during the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs. The conference at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point opened eyes and sparked cross-cultural friendships over four days.

“A conference like this is a fruitful engagement of the world because it gave me a global perspective on issues,” Regep, of La Grange, Illinois, said. “It was a great cultural experience to see someone else’s world beyond Peoria. It enhanced the ways I can look at things and developed a bigger understanding of how the world works.”

Participants spent most of their time in small groups developing policy papers on a range of issues. Topics covered matters related to democratic societies, such as security, political radicalization, technology, ethnic and religious conflicts, and the role of democracy in different world regions.

Regep worked through political radicalization concerns with colleagues from Belgium, Ukraine, Stanford and several Ivy League schools. West Point faculty and cadets guided discussions. Conversations brought classroom material to life and helped students understand issues that may have seemed distant.

Roundtables also fostered relationships that will benefit students’ futures. As an aspiring politician or diplomat, cross-cultural dialogue will be vital to Regep’s success.

“It’s not common to strike up conversations about political radicalization over coffee at Bradley,” he said. “Those one-on-one conversations developed relationships that I’ll value because our futures will likely intersect at some point.”

SCUSA participants lived the military life in West Point’s barracks with cadets. That gave participants an insider’s view of life from “Reveille” to “Taps.”

“West Point seems like a far-off place for people who don’t have military backgrounds,” Regep said. “It was valuable to meet cadets, see their camaraderie and learn their perspective. Knowing some of the people who will be on our front lines affected how I see our foreign policy.”

Regep attributed his ability to actively engage global colleagues to his Hilltop education. He received the opportunity to attend SCUSA by College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Chris Jones and political science department chair Dr. Mark Gobeyn. Bradley sends a political science or international studies major to the conference each year.

“It’s humbling to know I easily engaged people from other countries and students older than me pursuing degrees at Ivy League schools,” Regep said. “That spoke volumes of the education I’ve received. That showed how much Bradley faculty care about preparing us to positively contribute to the world.”