Bright future: Alex Kraemer hopes to help put world issues in perspective

July 2017 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Dixon Bledsoe 2017Silverton was established in 1885. The University of Cambridge is just slightly older, by almost seven centuries. The former is a charming little Oregon town with 9,500 people and 163-year history. The other is one of the world’s top four universities, situated in Cambridge, England with more than 20,000 undergraduates and graduate students. One has a veritable “Who’s Who” on their alumni list, including Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, Sir Isaac Newton, John Harvard (yes the Cambridge graduate who later founded another pretty well-known school that bears his name), Dian Fossey, and Stephen Hawking. The other has a graduate named Alex Kraemer, a Silverton High alum (Class of 2011) who may be destined to join the list of famous Cambridge grads.

Kraemer, 24, graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2015 and the University of Cambridge in 2017 on a fully-funded Davies-Jackson Scholarship. He holds an honors degree in history and a minor in English from the Portland college, and a second Bachelor of Arts from the prestigious English university. It’s a three-year program Kraemer finished in two.

For graduate school  he is contemplating either public policy or international affairs. Career-wise, Kraemer says, “I’m thinking government, politics, or journalism, with a smattering of additional writing in each case. My overall hope would be to contribute positively to the world, as saccharine as that might sound; I feel it would be an abdication of moral responsibility on my part if I didn’t try to do something to help however I could.”

His parents, Mary and Dan Kraemer, are quite happy. Mary said of her oldest son, “I think it was a great honor for Alex to go to Cambridge. Not many people get the opportunity, and he should be pleased that he got to go. I didn’t expect Alex would end up doing something like that, but I always knew he would do some incredible things. We are very proud.”

About his experiences in England, Kraemer holds many dear.Alex-Cmabridge, 2015 (2)

“I have a special place in my heart for going to this bar, the Pickerel, with my friends a few times a week, drinking a few pints and chain-smoking. Perhaps a simple ritual, but a cherished one nonetheless.”

One can only imagine the banter among international students as they regale each other with stories about their countries, the British Monarchy, the U.S. election, and the future of the world.

When asked about his experiences of being an American in an international university, he pensively states, “Rather strange, I suppose. Especially in the current era, to be sure. I remember the day after the election being a quiet, mournful moment for most of Cambridge. I only encountered anti-American sentiments on a few occasions – the worst being when someone who I didn’t know asked me, ‘How are things in the Colonies?’ tried to argue that Americans are collectively ignorant and insular, and later exclaimed to a friend just how sick they were of Americans. But that was a massive outlier – on the whole, most Brits I met were curious about my circumstances and quite welcoming.” 

He adds, “I am an inexhaustible booster for Oregon – many of my friends from the UK have promised to come and visit in the very near future, based largely on how Edenic I painted Oregon to be.”

What does an international scholar do in his spare time? “I try to have as little free time as possible – or more accurately, I try to have it taken up with something productive. At the moment, I spend a lot of my time working on an online journalism start-up a friend of mine created, Arbitror. Our mission is to drive deeper engagement with international affairs in the public, especially the youth who will assume leadership positions in the future. We are to inherit this country and this planet before long, and it is imperative that we begin to understand the challenges we face as a global society now, and begin to formulate opinions as to how best to find solutions.”

Soon to come for this driven young man?

“Planning and hosting a bimonthly podcast which concerns itself with politics foreign and domestic, with a particular interest in demystifying principles and theories of international affairs.”

The podcast for Arbitror, called Arbitration, is very significant as, according to Kraemer,

“We aim to open up the somewhat opaque world of international politics and offer perspectives not of lifelong policy wonks, but highly-educated young people with fresh takes on the world. Particularly, we hope to bring concepts and theories of international affairs to laypeople, and show how these those ideas might be applied to events unfolding around the world.

Wow. What an articulate and impressive young man just six years separated from the Frothy Fox coffee house and Mr. (Chris) Blackburn’s Advanced Placement U.S. History course at Silverton High.  I can see a Silverton mural in his future.

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