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Matt's Favorite Activities

I am active in the community and one of my best and most amazing experiences is being part of the annual Conference on World Affairs (CWA) on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. I have been involved with CWA for the past 5 years, and each year offers new excitement and challenges. I was part of a group of unique and great students that helped revamp the conference to the great conference that it is today and has been in the past. Please read my CWA story or my Aikido story or view other personal honors.

My CWA Story

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the annual Conference on World Affairs (CWA) in 1994, the 47th conference was canceled because the founder Howard Higman pasted away. This created a leadership void for the conference, but also created a new opportunity for students and people of Boulder to bring new life to the annual conference. The following year Sten Stiemo was named director and along with Juli Stienheaur and Jane Butcher the co-chairs, they led the rebirth of the new conference. I was not involved that year, but quickly got involved once I had been exposed to the conference.

Every student that is involved has her story of how and why we got involved.
This is my story.

During the week of the 48th CWA, I was given an assignment of writing a short essay on a panel of my choice. I don't remember the panel's name, but I remember Sonya Hamiln talking about life after college and working in a career that you are passionate about. I listened to her and it made sense.

After seeing that panel I was hooked and I knew that I wanted to be a part of CWA. I saw that most of the distinguished people that CWA brings to Boulder every year sincerely cared about students, academia, our society and the state of the world. I went to as many panels as I could during that week and enjoyed every minute of each panel.

Later on that year, in the fall of 1996 I joined the committee as a student. This was back in the days that there were very few students participating. I got involved and offered to help contact the former governor of Hawaii John Waihee, I had a connection to him and was able to contact him and invite, however due to his busy schedule he was not able to attend. I also became part of the "core" volunteer group which was lead by then volunteer coordinator Dave Hasikins.

The student volunteer group for the 49th and 50th CWA, had the greatest group of students ever. Through volunteering and working hard and side-by-side day-in and day-out we all became good close friends. As a group we stayed friends long after the conference was over and that was something that had never happened before. As friends, the following year we planed for the best conference ever the 50th. Anyone who has been a part of the conference knows that the first year you are involved it is basically a learning process, to learn what goes on and how things are done. The core group of volunteers was experienced from the 49th CWA and we pulled together to make the 50th the best ever. That year of the conference was an amazing year, just ask anyone who went to the final party on Friday night-they will tell you that was the best party ever! People still talk about that party and how much fun we all had.

The subsequent years also had great volunteers, participants, panels, and parties. The conference continues to grow and bring in new students and members fueling in the tradition of intellectual discussions and debates. As new students enter the university and graduate, hopefully there will be a constant flow of new blood, life and energy to the conference. It is up to the new students to create their "core" group and create their best conference ever.


Aikido and My Life

I first started to train in Aikido at the age of 10. I trained under Gary Omori at the Zen Dojo in Kalahi, Hawaii. I trained there until I was 18 and entered the University of Colorado, where I continue to train under Russell Jones. I continued to train with the Ki-Society till I graduated in 1998. Aikido is a martial art that is applied to everyday life. In Aikido, we use the principals to understand, act upon and behave with in everyday life. Aikido training is character training and development. Omori Sensei would emphasize character development and how we would develop and apply character in the real world.

Aikido often applies many metaphors of life. In the dojo, we train to be attacked, but we also train to heal through ki-exercises and massage. We learn to judge character, and see one's true intentions. This applies in the life and in the corporate world.

We can apply conflict resolution to create a better situation for everyone. The principals of Aikido can easily be applied to many business situations. In business, you need to understand your customers and your competition. The character of a business depends on everyone at the company from the CEO and upper management to the common employees. A credible and hard working company will create a superior product. This is evident to the customers and those who work with the company. A company that does not take care of their employees or customers will have less then optimal production from those employees and the customers will not come back for repeat business. In Aikido, we train to develop character, we learn to see others character.

One of the challenges for everyone in the 21st century is dealing with the "new" and constantly changing environment of technology. Aikido along with my education has prepared me to be aware of changes in the environment and accept change and to be fluid. In today's business world, the companies that are fluid can make changes and create new opportunities and ventures in the many new markets created by Internet and technology. Other companies who have stubborn attitudes and internal red tape cannot be as fluid and therefore often miss great business opportunities. In Aikido, we learn to be fluid and that you need a clear perspective. These things will help us defend from our attackers. We learn that our mind cannot be "suck" on issues or problems. We learn to free our minds of clutter and move with our opponents--be one with them. If you are scared of being hit, your mind is "stuck" and you cannot move you cannot react. This is much like the business that does not want to change or cannot find the solution their minds are "stuck". When your mind is "stuck" you cannot move, you cannot act and thus you will get hit, in business this means you cannot create new solutions, markets, and customers. Through using the many principals of Aikido, I have learned to be flexible, fluid, and willing to accept new ideas, changes and challenges these qualities are helpful in the corporate world.

Throughout the years, I have trained under many instructors and senseis. When training at different dojos I quickly learned that there are many ways to do the same art. And beyond that, every art is unique, there are no two (alike) of the same throws, rolls, or pins. Yet the principals at all the dojos are the same. They may have different "words" but the meaning is the same. This can be applied to the corporate world as well where every company and every business situation is unique, yet the principals of business and capitalism are fundamental and common.

It was important for everyone to understand that there are many different ways of doing an art or in the real world of doing anything in particular. When one understands that there are many solutions to every problem one can adapt the best solution to the given problem based on the available resources. When we work together it's necessary to understand that everyone has different ways of working, completing a task and communicating. Like the art of Aikido, as people work together we teach each other our ways or arts, we find that there is no wrong way to solve problems just many ways to create solutions. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to visit an Aikido Dojo.