“Look up” said our guide.
It wasn’t the first time he had suggested that. We needed to be reminded to tear our eyes away from the dazzling beauty of the marble coliseum style pillars lining the hall along with the handsome jarrah panelling. Gazing up, the high ceiling was a blinding shade of gold. Square panels set at different depths embroidered with intricate renaissance patterns amongst a tessellation of tiles added to the elegance and sophistication of the room. The grandeur of the building was intensified by elaborate architectural design and fine detail. A sharply suited young professional with a slick comb over, immaculately polished Salvatore Ferraro loafers and a steady gaze strode past us with no time to feign a smile. His cologne lingered for longer than he did – no doubt the young man had been sent on an urgent fact finding mission by one of the congressmen. My fellow Mannkal scholars and I had been reunited in Washington DC and were lucky enough to explore the Capitol building with the assistance of Tremayne Smith (Special Assistant to G K Butterfield in US Congress – thanks to John Hugo for making our tour possible).
I spent the week in Washington DC exploring and catching up with the other Mannkal scholars. The rich political and cultural history of the United States is concentrated in various Smithsonian museums dotted around the circumference of the National Mall. I particularly enjoyed the National Museum of Air and Space along with the Holocaust Museum. It was easy to spend several days exploring the National Mall area, including the Washington Monument, Library of Congress, the Capitol Building, the White House and the US Supreme Court. I also enjoyed exploring other historical districts of DC, such as the picturesque Georgetown and vibrant Adams Morgan neighbourhood. On one evening, I attended a panel discussion event at the German Marshall Fund think tank addressing foreign policy and ‘how millennials can assist refugees’. This is a topic I am particularly passionate about and it was encouraging to meet so many other young people who share my interest.
The International Students for Liberty Conference officially opened on the evening of Friday 26 February 2016 with hundreds of scholars from all over the US, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe in attendance. The Reason Foundation had a big presence at the conference, with prominent journalist Nick Gillespie opening by leading a panel discussion with Dr George Will and Matt Welch on ‘why the world is actually getting more libertarian’. Throughout Saturday, I attended back-to-back breakout sessions on various issues including immigration, human rights and politics. There were two standouts for me: the first being a presentation by Dr Bryan Caplan (CATO Institute) on the benefits of open borders and the second being Alex Nowratesh’s (CATO Institute) explanation on the economic effects of immigration. The ‘open borders’ debate is a common topic of conversation amongst Libertarian scholars and one I particularly enjoy participating in. I admit that I must continue to read and learn more before I can form my own view – this is something I look forward to developing further when I return to Australia. I would like to write an article on the arguments for and against open borders in my spare time this year.
My interest in policy and research has undoubtedly grown and become a passion of mine over the last 3 months. Whilst I have always enjoyed writing and discussing political topics, my time with the Reason Foundation in Los Angeles has consolidated my interest in policy. I am incredibly grateful to the Mannkal Foundation for the opportunity to travel to the United States to further explore my passion for research. My experience with the Reason Foundation has been truly life changing and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on issues such as privatisation and immigration with other students, friends and family in Western Australia. Thanks to Mannkal, I have been able to meet with some of the most influential and inspirational writers in the United States as well as form new friendships with incredible young people from Perth. These networks are invaluable and have opened my mind up to another world and way of thinking. This unforgettable journey would not have been possible without Ron Manners and the Mannkal Foundation. Thankyou for the opportunity to represent Mannkal and I look forward to sharing my experiences with future scholars!