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Two Old Tridents recently enjoyed the chance of a lifetime to attend President Obama’s St George’s Day speech at the Royal Horticultural Halls, London through their involvement with the US Embassy’s Young Leaders UK (YLUK) initiative.
Dominic Kalantary (pictured left) and George Livesey (pictured right), who left Trent College in 2015 and are now in their first year at Exeter University, successfully entered a YLUK ballot to attend the address after learning about the programme through another former Trent College student and now US diplomat, John Morgan.
US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, launched YLUK in June 2015 to connect Britain’s rising leaders with the American people, the USA and with one another.
Mr Morgan attended Trent College between 1983-1990 before going on to serve as a diplomat in China, Vietnam and Jamaica and later an assignment on US Vice President Joe Biden's National Security Staff as Advisor for Asia. He returned to his old school in January to introduce YLUK to Head, Mr Bill Penty, and share with the school’s youngest (18-30 years) Old Tridents and Upper Sixth (Year 13) students.
Dominic, who lives in Nottingham, and George, from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, both held a number of leadership positions at Trent College, including those of Senior Prefects, and they seized the chance to join YLUK by submitting individual videos each answering three questions set by the Ambassador.
Their swift response paid dividends as they joined the 1000-strong audience of students, dignitaries and celebrities, including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, businesswoman Karren Brady and actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, for Mr Obama’s speech and hour-long Q&A as part of his final UK visit as President.
Dominic said: “We were sat four rows from the President, right in front of him! To get the chance to see someone as charismatic as Barack Obama talk while he’s still in office was just incredible. There is something about the President of the United States; he is arguably the most powerful individual in the world and there was very much a sense of awe around the whole day. People really want to talk to him.
“People asked him general questions about his Presidency, what advice he would give to Hilary Clinton if she was the next President, and also what he would possibly like to achieve going forwards, with a particular focus on younger years education.
“For the Q&A he took a roving mic and went into the audience himself and he had no idea what questions he was going to get, it was people raising their hands and him choosing them to speak to. It was just a fantastic opportunity through YLUK.”
YLUK now has around 1000 members, all with leadership potential in their chosen field and strong interest in issues that connect the US and UK. The programme offers regular conference calls with the Ambassador and other prominent guest speakers while special events are hosted at the US Embassy and Embassy official residences.
John Morgan, who works as Chief of the Passport and Citizenship Unit at the US Embassy in London, added: “I’m delighted Old Tridents were able to attend the President’s 'Town Hall' meeting.
"YLUK is a fantastic opportunity for young people to build their networks and also to have the chance to hear from and interact with influential people and leaders in their fields. I hope more of Trent College’s senior students and recent graduates will take advantage of this fantastic opportunity”.