by Christina Perez
Can delving into the history of our presidents help the younger generation make a difference in our current society? According to Jeremi Suri, the answer is a resounding “yes!” As part of their Insider Series, World Affairs Council hosted Jeremi Suri to speak about “Why the History of the Presidency Matters in the Age of Trump.” Dr. Suri, a professor at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, was the special guest for the evening. He teaches courses on strategy and decision-making, leadership, globalization, international relations, and history. We only had to take note of his most recent book, The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office, to know that he would be an interesting person to hear speak.
It was an added bonus that we would be going to the Houston United Way, a new venue for us.
When we arrived, we were greeted by Amanda Rico, the Director of Education for the council.
It wasn’t long until Dr. Suri joined us and began the session with a seemingly simple question, “Why do people study history?”.
By studying history, people can decrease the likelihood of making errors, but also allow us to imagine a new future. History can teach others how to respect the reasons people have in making the decisions they’ve made in the past.
For example, certain presidents, such as George Washington and Ronald Reagan, have shaped the American presidency through re-imagining the future.
Dr. Suri opened up the floor for conversation by asking us about what the presidency, or the selection of the president, should be like in present day. Of course, everyone had an opinion! Students in the crowd shared their educated opinions, bouncing their ideas back and forth. One student even suggested that that the presidency should have an age cap, since there was already an age minimum.
This led the conversation to shift to a major problem our current society has, especially with Millennials.
Since the younger generations are not politically active and have little to no presence in all parts of the government, our governmental systems cannot effectively function. Indeed, this question was posed by one of the SHSU contingent, Chase Kennemer.
Many ideas have been implemented, but there is still no concrete solution to this age-participation gap. How can we, as students, fix that problem? What could we do to motivate those around us to become more engaged? Dr. Suri advised that the best way to influence others is to communicate the importance of getting involved with our government, especially locally: Attending a city hall meeting to see how their actions affect our city, or beginning by running for local office.
Overall, his lecture was educational and invigorating for us, motivating us to keep being involved with politics and government. It inspired everyone to eventually make a difference in America’s government. We were able to shake hands with Dr. Suri and thank him for his empowering speech, taking the time to speak with us individually after the event.
Peli Peli Kitchen:
The Ambassadors had a few ideas about where they would like to stop for dinner, but like most fair democracies, President Kaitlyn Tyra picked her favorite restaurant to go to, none other than Peli Peli Kitchen, a South African cuisine, in West Houston. Our fellow companion and Pre-Law member, Sawyer Massie, had his first time eating African food. Unlike some ambassadors, he was genuinely excited to try a new type of food! Food ranged from common South African Fajita Tacos to Curried Chicken and the Huguenot Pork Belly. As we sat around the table, we discussed the importance of specific people that Dr. Suri mentioned, artists such as Gilbert Stuart and Norman Rockwell, whom he managed to incorporate into a talk on politics. It was nice to know the people he mentioned! And it was a great end to a fun filled evening. We headed back to Huntsville for a good night sleep before attending the Candidate Forum the next day.