US Ambassador Visit

In our first week back in the summer term, we were delighted to welcome Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, to speak to our Sixth Form. As you will read, the Ambassador is a direct line to the US President, Barrack Obama and we were very honoured to make our contribution to Mr. Barzun’s imminent discussions with the President.

Mr Barzun was an early supporter of then Senator Barrack Obama and worked with him on his first campaign in 2008. After his victory, President Obama asked Mr Barzun to become Ambassador to Sweden, and then in 2013 asked him to take on the role in the UK. The Ambassador told the students about his meeting at The White House, when President Obama asked him to take his first diplomatic posting. Mr Barzun asked the President for his top piece of advice, to which the President simply replied “listen.”

The Ambassador took the President’s advice to heart and has travelled across the country speaking to people and listening to their views on the relationship between the USA and UK. On arrival, Mr Barzun had a short introductory meeting with Mr Gillett, Mollie (Head Girl) and Bradley (Head Boy), then led an interactive workshop in the Ark Theatre. Students were given voting devices to participate. The Ambassador asked a series of questions about their views on the USA, whether they had been there, would like to go there, and their opinions on health care and foreign policy. There was a real buzz in the air and lots of discussion as the students decided which button to press!

Following this, the students were asked to fill out a card, on one side it said ‘Frustrate/Concern/Confuse’ and on the other ‘Like/Hope/Inspire.’ He asked them to share what hopes and concerns they had about the USA. This led to a very open discussion where he explained some of the problems facing America both domestic, foreign and global (such as climate change). We were extremely impressed by the level of questions put to Mr Barzun by our students, their knowledge of current world issues and the ideas they had to improve the world we all live in.

It was a great honour to have Mr Barzun and the Embassy staff visit our Academy. Most importantly, the views of our students and their contribution to this event will be raised personally by the Ambassador in discussions with President Obama when he visits the UK at the end of the week.