By Mai Mislang
A group of HKs students led by MC-MPA and Arizona resident Maria Syms, visited this western state from April 10 to 13, 2014. They exchanged views with leading Republican stalwarts in Phoenix, visited a charter school, indulged in authentic Mexican food, and marveled at stunning vistas, cacti and red rocks. The 90 degree desert weather was a welcome respite from the long drawn-out winter in Boston.
The trek was a first time for many to visit Arizona, and to meet extraordinary people who have made it their life’s work to transform the “Valley Of The Sun” into the special place that it is. Meeting former US Vice President Dan Quayle was a real honor for the group, and gave them a glimpse of his White House years, his thoughts on the future of the Republican party and his insights on the most burning issues confronting some of the countries from where the group originated. His genuine interest in their stories and the depth of the conversation would lead one to rethink the priorities of the press that mercilessly picked on him while he was in office.
They also met with former US Ambassador to Finland Barbara Barrett and Christine Jones, who is running for governor of Arizona. The discussion revolved around hot-button issues such as education, and the state’s economy, including the “5Cs of Arizona”: copper, cotton, cattle, citrus and climate – which attract investments and create jobs for the state. The chief of staff of the governor, Scott Smith, also generously took time from his busy schedule to shed some light on how the state government works as well as their controversial stance on immigration.
Capping the weekend was a trip to the majestic Sedona National Park, which is two hours away from Phoenix.