Santiago Casas: Day 4, JF Spring Trip

Saturday, February 25, 2012

For me, today was the most anticipated day of the trip. We attended the Arkansas Political Science Association conference at University of Central Arkansas and had a great time.

One of the things I learned was that these conferences have multiple and simultaneous panels, which forces participants to choose which panel they most want to attend.  Our advisor indicated that this was the way all conferences work, and that at bigger conferences, it’s even more difficult to choose among the panels.

To accommodate these panels, we split up and attended different panels so that we could later compare notes.  One of the things we learn is to maximize coverage, you have to work together.

Million Dollar Quintet--Teamwork!

I attended the panel on “Issues In Comparative Politics.” The setting of the discussion was much like a classroom, and the speakers presented from a podium in the front. Two of the speakers addressed ethnic groups, with the most interesting of the panelists arguing that anti-American and anti-Islamic views were driven more by ideology than religion.

In the second session Justin Beiser, Christian Bionat, and I went to the Undergraduate panel discussion. There were some good speakers on this panel, and it was a nice reminder that research doesn’t have to be restricted to Masters or Doctoral students.

While attending this conference, we met Shohta Nakashima, who spoke on “Japan’s Assistance to Israel and Palestine.”  He is a student at the University of Arkansas, who is originally from Japan.  After the panel, we had lunch with him and the rest of the conference participants. This type of interaction is one of the benefits of a conference, and I feel privileged to have experienced it first-hand.

Junior Fellows with Shohta Nakashima

Still in our business attire, we then visited the Clinton Presidential Library.  This was my first-ever Presidential Library, and while I didn’t find it particularly aesthetically pleasing to the eye, I did enjoy the exhibits inside.  It is a very modern, three-story structure, filled with presidential memorabilia and interesting facts about Clinton’s life and presidency.  One of the coolest things was seeing a replica of the Oval Office.  I have never been to Washington, DC, so this was pretty neat.

Junior Fellows at the Oval Office in the Clinton Library

We took a nice walk over the pedestrian bridge that overlooks the Arkansas River and the Little Rock skyline.  It was a nice, last view of the downtown area as we prepared to move on to our next city.

Junior Fellows on Bridge Overlooking Little Rock Skyline

Before we left we did have one more moment of fun.  Surrounding the Clinton Presidential Library are various hills, and people were out there sliding down on garbage can lids and cardboard boxes.  They kindly allowed us to use them and, still in our business suits, we slid down the hill.

Junior Fellows Sliding Down Hill In Suits

Even our advisors got into the act and took the hill for a ride as well.  Sometimes these small, fun moments are the nicest parts of a trip.

We then headed to Natchitoches, a five-hour trip.  To pass the time, we played “Catchphrase,” a fun game for groups of four or more.  We got into an intense game that went through four tie-breakers, before Ryan Brim, Justin Beiser, and I emerged victorious!

When we arrived in Natchitoches, we ate at The Landing in the historic downtown area.  The Cane River wended its way across the street, and the interior of the restaurant has faux gaslamps throughout.  The food was great, and it was an enjoyable cap to a long day.

After dinner, we traveled to our lodgings, which were on the outskirts of Natchitoches.  They were log cabins—The Blind Faith Cabins—and they exceeded our expectations.  The boys and I made a little camp fire outside, and we hung out conversing about our experiences over the past several days, much of which is recorded here in these blogs…

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