At 16:15 on 18th November 2013, Matthew Barzun, the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, entered the Science Lecture Room at Hills Road Sixth Form College to lead an engaging Question and Answer discussion.
Instead of giving a lecture, he encouraged students to have a discussion with him by asking questions, which was welcomed by the many A level Government and Politics students present. The questions to the Ambassador included queries about the recent US government shutdown, his ideas on gun control, health care and the situation in Syria and whether he spoke Swedish - he replied to the last one in Swedish!
Students asked the Ambassador several questions about the relationship between the US and the UK: if there were any differences between the ways in which the two governments operated and why the relationship is so strong between the two countries. His answers gave the audience of sixth form students and staff a good working understanding of his role and how much he valued US–UK links, which he referred to as a ‘special relationship’.
His comments on the recent government shutdown were that it was “not our [meaning Congress’s] finest hour”. As a Democrat himself he went on to explain that it disappointed him that the government shutdown had occurred because of the differing opinions on the Affordable HealthCare Act.
One student asked the Ambassador about his background, to which he replied that he had worked for an internet company before pursuing a career in diplomacy.
Max Bouttell, 18, Politics student said, “As someone who is intending to go onto study Politics at university, Ambassador Barzun's visit was both greatly enjoyable and enlightening.”
Head of Political and Social Sciences at the College, Blair Murray Cusati said, “Hills Road Politics students were privileged to hear an excellent insider's account of Washington DC and US foreign policy. Ambassador Barzun engaged the student audience with his responses to student questions and his sense of humour.”
Based on a report by student Lizzy Knowles