This blog is for those wanting to keep up to date on all the work that the Vermont Council on World Affairs is doing around the world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Annual Dinner Honoring Congressman Peter Welch

The Vermont Council on World Affairs (VCWA) hosted its 8th annual international dinner at St. Michael's College on Thursday, June 16th. The dinner honored Congressman Peter Welch, one of the leading voices in Congress on global energy issues and a strong advocate for the use of diplomacy and foreign aid to advance America's interests abroad.

This evening was made possible by sponsorship from Sugarbush Resort, Food 4 Farmers, TD Bank, National Life Group, UVM Health Network, Tetra Tech ARD, Pomerleau Real Estate, Revision Military, People’s United Bank, Vermont Gas, Champlain College, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Burlington International Airport, Birnn Chocolates of Vermont, Sodexo, and Saint Michael’s College, all supporters of the VCWA and our honoree.

Patricia Preston, Executive Director of the VCWA, welcomed everyone to their tables and introduced the distinguished individuals who joined us in honoring Congressman Welch. Eric Hanson, Co-Chair of the VCWA spoke on a unique mode of fundraising, known as “friendraising”. Madeleine M. Kunin, Governor of Vermont (1985-1991) and United States Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-1999), articulated the value of being a global citizen by recognizing a need for a sense of humanity and a sense of ridiculous in politics. She believes this is what Congressman Welch brings from Vermont and disseminates across the country. President of Revision Military Technologies LLC, Lt. General Michael Dubie (ret.), spoke very highly of the Congressman's time working abroad. During his tenure as Vermont’s Congressman, he has been to twenty-five different countries, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Cuba. General Dubie noted that Congressman Welch makes it a priority to know what’s going on in the world during these tumultuous times, thus bringing wisdom to Vermont and Congress. Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power, praised Congressman Welch for being empathetic, saying "the most basic human need is to be understood. The only way to understand is to listen." For Powell, Congressman Welch embodies the qualities of a great leader.

Congressman Welch opened his speech by discussing the importance of developments in foreign policy and their connection to the confidence and security of the American people. To instill such confidence, he believes there needs to be social cohesion and strong economic policy. He noted that in 2013 a study found an increasing number of Americans believe the government should mind its own business and focus on domestic issues. After the 9/11 attack in 2001 there was a critical change to foreign policy. The idea was that, if America had a strong military, we must use it. He asserted that we are not in a position to remake Iraq or Afghanistan, instead we must focus on installing global institutions that promote peace. We must be engaged in the world and bring help from Vermont to distant locations.

Bill Mares, Co-Chair of VCWA, concluded the evening by presenting Congressman Welch with an award, and discussed his role as an 802 diplomat. Thanks to the enthusiastic and engaged attendees, the evening was filled with high energy and excitement in the honoring of Congressman Peter Welch and all the work that he has done and will continue to do to promote global awareness in Vermont and beyond.

The Vermont Council on World Affairs (VCWA) is a division of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce that brings the world to Vermont and Vermont to the world.

To learn more about the VCWA, visit

Introduction of Ashley

My name is Kathryn Ashley McNeish and I am a rising junior studying Global Studies as an undergrad at the University of Vermont College of Arts and Sciences. My interest in global studies was influenced by a trip I took in 2014 to Rwanda where I lived with a host family of genocide survivors. While there, I worked with students ages ranging from toddlers to college students, learning about the culture while also doing ethnographic work at a clean water project. Originally starting my undergrad at Endicott College, I was provided the opportunity to complete a 120 hour internship at the Montreal Institute of Genocide Studies and the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling. The internship gave me the chance to reflect on my studies and my experiences at Endicott, which gave me the time to explore other paths. It was then I decided to withdraw from Endicott College and take the semester off to travel to South Africa to teach English to third graders and work with disabled children in an orphanage through a volunteer program called Global Vision International. My time abroad further solidified my passion for working in underprivileged communities to promote humanitarian equality around the globe. I look forward to communicating with the Board about all the work that the Vermont Council on World Affairs is doing around the world. My goals for this internship and running this blog is to expand my international network and learn about all the incredible work that Vermont is doing in the world. 

Thank you and I look forward to working with you.