Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Americans are inundated with news from all over the world, but this near constant news cycle can quickly become overwhelming and, at its worst, misleading. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of one local organization, Charleston residents can get a clearer picture of the world as a whole and how they as Americans fit in to it.
The World Affairs Council of Charleston (WACC), an affiliate of the World Affairs Councils of America, is a local organization that provides members with a wealth of opportunities to learn more about the global community.
Founded in the early 1980s, WACC holds six speaking engagements every year that host men and women involved in all aspects of international politics and studies. The next speaker in the ongoing series will be Dr. Barbara Sude, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, who will be giving a timely presentation entitled “The Multiple Crises in the Middle East: Where Are They Headed and What Can Washington Do About Them?” Sude will be speaking Wednesday, Oct. 8, beginning at 6 p.m., and like all WACC speakers, the event will be held at The Citadel Alumni Center located at 69 Hagood Ave. in Charleston. Speakers often present for 30 minutes before opening the floor up for questions from the audience.
The organization's president, Carol Fishman, believes the quality of speakers at these engagements is what sets WACC apart from major news outlets.
“They are generally people who are active in one way or another in the field and we try to have people who will talk in depth about particular issues and not just in sound bites,” Fishman said. “We get enough sound bites on television and we try to do it more in depth, so people can actually learn something and understand the issues or topics.”
Fishman credits Program Chairman Al Thibault, Dunes West resident and retired foreign service officer, for recruiting the high quality of presenters coming to Charleston. “He's been very helpful to us in getting better and better speakers each year. So, we very much appreciate his hard work,” Fishman said.
One main obstacle that people have when trying to understand issues on the other side of the world is tying foreign matters back in with what is happening in the U.S.
WACC hopes that by helping those here in the local community make connections between domestic and international issues, they can better relate to the global community and see that what happens in one country can affect the world.
“We focus on international issues that are of importance here in the U.S.,” said Thibault. “We are non-partisan and objective in our presentations.”
WACC is made up of 250-300 members on average and is always looking for more. In addition to the six annual speaking engagements, the organization also holds regular in-home discussion groups. Those interested in becoming a member or learning more can visit WACC's website at www.waccharleston.org.
Dustin Waters is one of our staff reporters and the staff copy editor. Follow Dustin on Twitter @MNreports for more news updates.