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Trip to India teaches Dan Wernick '12 lessons in diplomacy

Dan Wernick '12 (third from left) with other C-100 students in India.
Dan Wernick '12 (third from left) with other C-100 students in India.

Dan Wernick '12 was only half joking when he told the Indian Public Diplomacy that one of the 11 college students on an official visit to India may be president of the United States one day.

Wernick, president of Connecticut College's senior class, and the other students are part of the College-100, or C-100, a network of American student leaders that includes student body and class presidents; Rhodes, Truman and Gates scholars; Olympic athletes and other distinguished youth. They traveled to India last month at the invitation of the Ministry of External Affairs' Public Diplomacy Division.

"While in India, I was able to synthesize and relate information gained from economics and government courses, Peggotty Investment Club meetings, discussions with professors outside of class, independent research and internships to various discussion topics," Wernick said. "I was able to utilize all of my experiences as a student at Conn to actively engage in these conversations. I believe that this sense of versatility that a liberal arts education at Connecticut College provides students is incredibly valuable in life."

The trip was designed to help these future leaders - perhaps, as Wernick suggested, even a future president - develop personal relationships with foreign leaders and each other. The group met with India's Chief Election Commissioner, the Joint Secretary of the Americas and representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs, and visited the Facebook's Indian headquarters.

"Witnessing first-hand the way leaders operate in India was eye-opening," Wernick, a government and economics double major, said. "It was a great networking opportunity - I made contacts within India and among my U.S. colleagues."

One of Wernick's new contacts is a former student body president of Delhi University. Wernick said he was fascinated by the way she is treated as a national figure by the Indian media - often appearing on the front page of local newspapers.

"She has to declare her position on national issues," Wernick said.

The influence of India's student leaders was just one of many surprising contrasts Wernick discovered about the country and the way it operates. Having previously studied abroad in Vietnam through the College's Study Away Teach Away program, Wernick has first-hand knowledge of the politics and economics of developing cultures, but says India is unique.

"India has a lot of power and influence, but it also has a lot of the same issues that other developing countries face," he said.

- By Laura Marenghi '12

April 18, 2012