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International Summit Highlights: 2003 Washington, DC
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See what The Washington Post had to say about the 2003 International Achievement Summit.

From April 30 to May 4, 2003, more than 220 outstanding graduate students from 44 countries gathered in Washington, D.C. to join the world's leaders in public affairs, business, science and the arts at the 42nd annual International Achievement Summit.

Twenty-two new honorees were inducted into the Academy of Achievement; among the past and present honorees of the Academy in attendance were the 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton; Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia; the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe Velez; the former Prime Minister of Israel, His Excellency Ehud Barak; United States Senators Bill Frist, Ted Stevens, Tom Daschle, Trent Lott, John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton; civil rights activist Coretta Scott King; three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace, author Elie Wiesel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Excellency Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel; filmmakers George Lucas and Ken Burns, musicians Kathleen Battle, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Chuck Berry; and authors Herman Wouk, Neil Sheehan, A. Scott Berg, Thomas Friedman and N. Scott Momaday, all recipients of the Pulitzer Prize. The Summit Host was Catherine B. Reynolds, Chairman and CEO of The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation..

Academy members and guests stayed at the elegant Hay-Adams Hotel, just across Lafayette Park from the White House. Along with the Academy's international honor students, Academy members and guests took many of their meals in the hotel's handsome John Hay Room and in the breathtaking Roof Garden, with its incomparable view of the White House, Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

Within hours of arriving in Washington, the Academy's international honor students gathered in the United States Supreme Court for a special evening program. No sooner had they been welcomed to the Court by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor than they were introduced to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Speaking extemporaneously, the Secretary shared his inspiring personal vision of American democracy and took questions from the international students, engaging in a forthright and respectful exchange of views on the recent war in Iraq, before departing on an urgent diplomatic mission in the Middle East. Few who were there will ever forget the Secretary's generosity in taking the time to meet with the young Academy scholars in the midst of the most momentous events. In the following discussion with Justices Ginsburg and O'Connor, American students were deeply impressed by the warm and respectful relationship of two jurists who have often disagreed sharply over matters of law. The European students were equally struck by the Justices' familiarity with European legal systems.

After this presentation, students were treated to an elegant dinner in the great Hall of the Supreme Court and a captivating performance by the acclaimed American soprano Kathleen Battle. On their way back to their hotel, students stopped for a moonlight visit to the Lincoln Memorial. There they gathered to hear the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Herman Wouk, who urged them to look past the marble colossus seated above them and see Lincoln the man. "This was a guy," Wouk said, one man, born with no advantages, who rose to lead his country and saved it from dissolution. After these moving words from a great author of the World War II generation, students took the few short steps to the hallowed ground where Americans honor the fallen of another war, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall. At the entrance to the memorial, they heard a passionate address by Neil Sheehan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning chronicler of that conflict.

Thursday afternoon's program began with two provocative panel discussions in the stately Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. One featured CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and famed investigative reporter Bob Woodward discussing the responsibilities of the media in a free society in an uninhibited discussion led by ABC news correspondent Sam Donaldson. For the second panel, Sam Donaldson welcomed actor George Clooney, Oscar-winning film director Stephen Soderbergh, screenwriter Henry Bean and former White House advisor Michael Deaver, who discussed their new project, K Street, a television series set in the world of Washington political consultants.

After a visit to the National Air and Space Museum, where students heard a presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg, all were taken for a private tour of the U.S. Capitol. Academy members and guests attended a reception in the offices of the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, the Honorable Ted Stevens. All joined later for the first full session of the Summit, held in the historic Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. This imposing venue has been the scene of some of the most dramatic episodes in American history, from the Senate hearings investigating the Titanic disaster to the Watergate and Iran-Contra hearings. On this night, it was the scene of an extraordinarily candid and collegial discussion with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the first honorees of this year's Summit, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and Senators Trent Lott, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. The Senators took question after question from the Academy honor students, and lingered long after the scheduled program to meet with students and exchange views informally.

The next morning's focus shifted from public policy to the latest developments in medical science. The program opened with the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Dr. Francis Collins and famed neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson. They were joined on the stage by stem cell pioneer Dr. John Gearhart, the famed British neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, and Dr. Steven Rosenberg, the Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute. These distinguished scientists pursued an enthralling exploration of "The Frontiers of Medicine," enlivened by questions from the Academy's many honor students of medicine and the life sciences.

The morning's program also included presentations by marine archaeologist Dr. George F. Bass, international businessman and philanthropist Leonard A. Lauder, and with an intimate advisor to U.S. Presidents of both major parties, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union Robert S. Strauss. The program continued with a presentation by the discoverer of "Lucy," the renowned paleoanthropologist Dr. Donald Johanson, and concluded in a stimulating exchange with the former presidential candidate of the U.S. Green Party, consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

The entire assembly then traveled by motorcade for the rare privilege of luncheon at the historic Naval Observatory, official residence of the Vice President of the United States. The gracious hostess of this luncheon was the wife of Vice President Richard Cheney, the distinguished author and commentator Lynne V. Cheney. The hospitality of the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney to the Academy was especially remarkable given the heightened security environment of Washington in wartime.

The afternoon's session resumed with individual presentations by the President of Colombia, His Excellency Alvaro Uribe Velez, and by two recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace, author and human rights activist Elie Wiesel, and His Excellency Shimon Peres, the former Prime Minister of Israel. They were joined in a discussion of "The New World Order" with the former President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, and the New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes. The afternoon's proceedings ended with the induction of President Uribe into the Academy of Achievement.

That evening, Academy members, guests and Student Delegates dined in the glorious rotunda of the National Gallery of Art, where they were entertained by legendary Broadway songstress Barbara Cook, and by some of the extraordinary music students of the Academy, guitarist Robert Belinic of Croatia, singer Barbara Quintiliani of the United States, and the fiery piano and violin virtuosity of Mikhail Simonyan and Alexei Podkorytov of the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra. The evening concluded with the induction of United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia into the Academy of Achievement.

Justice Scalia returned to the stage at the Chamber of Commerce on Saturday morning for a free-wheeling discussion with commentator Chris Matthews, Host of the MSNBC Hardball television program. Their conversation can be heard in the Audio Recordings area of the Academy web site. Justice Scalia was followed by the world's leading AIDS researcher, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who joined the Assistant Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal for a discussion of "Public Health and Public Safety," moderated by CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace. The morning's other speakers included the commander of NATO's successful intervention in Kosovo, General Wesley Clark (USA, Ret.), now a commentator on military affairs for CNN, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a hero of South Africa's freedom struggle and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

The assembly heard from award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, conservation scientist Thomas Lovejoy (creator of the television series Nature) and from the former Prime Minister of Israel, His Excellency Ehud Barak.

Chris Matthews returned to moderate a discussion, "Prospects for Peace," with former Prime Minister Barak, joined by former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell. The morning session concluded with a question and answer session with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Myers.

In the afternoon, the Academy heard from the creator of the Star Wars films, director George Lucas and from pioneering archaeologist Margaret Conkey.

Chris Matthews led a panel discussion of "Social Entrepreneurism" with the founders of Operation Smile, Dr. William Magee and Kathleen Magee; the founders of Habitat for Humanity, Millard and Linda Fuller; entrepreneur and philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring, founder of Wheelchairs for the World; and civil rights icon Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the last afternoon session of the Summit, students, Academy members and guests heard from the renowned author and pioneer of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil; from the Chairman of Fannie Mae, America's largest provider of home financing, the Honorable Franklin Raines; and from the former Mayor of New York City, the Honorable Rudolph Giuliani. Chris Matthews led Mr. Raines, and Washington Post publisher Donald Graham in a discussion of "Civic Leadership" with former Mayor Giuliani, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago and Washington's own Mayor Anthony Williams.

The weekend's activities culminated in the dazzling Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies, held in the awe-inspiring Mellon Auditorium, where the treaty creating NATO was first signed in 1949. Opening its massive doors for the first time since a major renovation, the Mellon Auditorium provided a spectacular setting for an unforgettable evening. In a brief ceremony, the newest honorees were inducted into the Academy of Achievement and presented with the Academy's Golden Plate award. Presentation of the Colors and playing of the National Anthem by the Marine Corps Color Guard and the President's Own Marine Orchestra were followed by a medley of patriotic songs led by Patti Austin and three young choirs, entering dramatically from all corners of the vast auditorium.

In a brief and moving address, the Host of the Achievement Summit, Catherine B. Reynolds, urged the international honor students to dedicate their extraordinary talents to building a freer, more peaceful world. She then introduced the 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton.

Mr. Clinton spoke of the responsibility the students must now assume as the next generation of world leaders. He cautioned them against being discouraged by the daily tumult of history in the making. "Never mind the headlines," he told them, "watch the trend lines." The trend lines are good, he said, in a world where more people live in freedom than at any time in history. After his brief message, he introduced an old hero of his, one of America's master musicians, Ray Charles. Mr. Charles gave a performance of remarkable depth, giving new life to classics such as "Route 66" and "Georgia on My Mind."

After a break, the audience was brought to its feet by a pulse-pounding session with America's Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin. Franklin had the audience of students and dignitaries rocking the dance floor with her spine-tingling renditions of "Respect," "Chain of Fools," and "Think." She ended by bringing a touch of soul to a dramatic aria from the opera Turandot, with her heart-stopping performance of Puccini's "Nessun dorma."

At the end of the evening, Academy members, guests and student delegates rose to their feet again as rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry entered from the back of the auditorium, firing stinging guitar riffs as he strode the length of the dance floor and mounted the stage. Fierce workouts of his classic songs had the crowd back on the dance floor. The evening held one more surprise, as a final Guest of Honor arrived. America's master songwriter, Bob Dylan, took the stage to be presented with the Golden Plate by one of his own youthful heroes, Chuck Berry.

On that extraordinary tableau, and with the sounds of classic American rhythm and blues ringing in their ears, Academy members, guests, and International Honor Students departed, carrying unforgettable memories of their visit to Washington. Many will return before long as leaders in public service and representatives of their respective countries, but all will proceed with renewed inspiration, having seen and heard firsthand that in every walk of life, one individual can make a difference.

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International Student Delegates of the Academy of Achievement at the United States Supreme Court after a dinner hosted by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

International Student Delegates of the Academy of Achievement at the United States Supreme Court after a dinner hosted by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Academy members Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with her husband Martin, and Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Introductory Symposium.

Academy members Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with her husband Martin, and Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Introductory Symposium.

Internationally acclaimed soprano and Academy member Kathleen Battle sings spirituals in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Internationally acclaimed soprano and Academy member Kathleen Battle sings spirituals in the Great Hall of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Distinguished author Herman Wouk speaks to the 225 Student Delegates at the Lincoln Memorial, facing the reflecting pool, with the Washington Monument in the distance.

Distinguished author Herman Wouk speaks to the 225 Student Delegates at the Lincoln Memorial, facing the reflecting pool, with the Washington Monument in the distance.

Sam Donaldson, Bob Woodward, Mike Wallace, Ben Bradlee

ABC news correspondent Sam Donaldson, investigative reporter Bob Woodward, CBS news correspondent Mike Wallace and longtime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in a panel discussion on the influence of the news media.

Senators John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Trent Lott in a free-spirited discussion at the 2003 Achievement Summit.

Senators John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Trent Lott in a free-spirited discussion at the 2003 Achievement Summit.

 Senators John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trent Lott and  Tom Daschle were presented with the Gold Medal of the Academy by Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Senators John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trent Lott and Tom Daschle were presented with the Gold Medal of the Academy by Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Senator John McCain exchanged ideas with Academy students after his symposium at the historic Russell Senate Office Building.

Senator John McCain exchanged ideas with Academy students after his symposium at the historic Russell Senate Office Building.

The Honorable Robert S. Strauss, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and  Catherine B. Reynolds, Host Chairman of the 2003 International Achievement Summit in Washington.

The Honorable Robert S. Strauss, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Catherine B. Reynolds, Host Chairman of the 2003 International Achievement Summit in Washington.

Academy Members and International Student Delegates gather for a luncheon and symposium at the Vice President's Residence.

Academy Members and International Student Delegates gather for a luncheon and symposium at the Vice President's Residence.

Dr. Lynne V. Cheney, welcomed the Academy assemblage to the Vice President's Residence and then spoke about passion and the ingredients of achievement.

Dr. Lynne V. Cheney, welcomed the Academy assemblage to the Vice President's Residence and then spoke about passion and the ingredients of achievement.

Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace

Elie Wiesel, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, addresses the Student Delegates to the International Achievement Summit in Washington.

His Excellency Shimon Peres, Thomas L. Friedman

The former Prime Minister of Israel, His Excellency Shimon Peres, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, and New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman, three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, exchange ideas with the students.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Academy honoree Antonin Scalia in a discussion with the Student Delegates, moderated by commentator and journalist Chris Matthews.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Academy honoree Antonin Scalia in a discussion with the Student Delegates, moderated by commentator and journalist Chris Matthews.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, joins Academy Student Delegates for an informal lunch at the International Achievement Summit in Washington.

Leonard A. Lauder, The Honorable George J. Mitchell

Members of the Academy, philanthropist and entrepreneur Leonard A. Lauder, and the former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, The Honorable George J. Mitchell, at the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies.

George Lucas, Dorothy Hamill, Jack Horner

Filmmaker George Lucas, Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill, and paleontologist Jack Horner at the Vice President's Residence during the International Achievement Summit.

The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani enjoys his discussion with students at the  International Achievement Summit.

The Honorable Rudolph Giuliani enjoys his discussion with students at the International Achievement Summit.

Civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King presented the Golden Plate Award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King presented the Golden Plate Award to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, welcomes Academy member Ray Charles at the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies.

William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, welcomes Academy member Ray Charles at the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies.

America's Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, rocks the house at the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremony.

America's Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, rocks the house at the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremony.

Rock and Roll pioneer Chuck Berry helps honor legendary musician Bob Dylan  at the 2003 International Achievement Summit.

Rock and Roll pioneer Chuck Berry helps honor legendary musician Bob Dylan at the 2003 International Achievement Summit.