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2023 McCain Global Leaders Program Concludes with Graduation in Vietnam

McCain Institute’s 2023 McCain Global Leaders conclude fellowship with a graduation ceremony and Legacy Experience in Da Nang and Hanoi, Vietnam

On Veterans Day, the McCain Global Leaders, joined by U.S. Army veteran Chuck Searcy, listen to remarks at the McCain Memorial in Hanoi, Vietnam.

HANOI, Vietnam — The McCain Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) concluded its 2023 McCain Global Leaders (MGLs) fellowship with a graduation ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam. The graduation follows an eight-day Legacy Experience in Hanoi and Da Nang, Vietnam. This was the final activity for the 2023 cohort, which also visited Annapolis, Md. and Washington, D.C., and included regional visits called Changemaker Tours in Poland, Taiwan, and South Africa.

The McCain Global Leaders Legacy Experience is an immersive journey into the cultural landscape of Vietnam and focuses heavily on Senator John McCain’s personal leadership journey as it relates to Vietnam. From his five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war to putting political differences aside to bring about reconciliation with a now indispensable United States partner, the 2023 MGLs met with people on both sides of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship who knew Senator McCain along the way.

“I can’t help but think that, somewhere, Senator McCain has a bit of a smile as he sees this global delegation gathering to discuss some of the most difficult challenges in the world and who are committed to furthering his legacy of character-driven leadership and serving causes greater than ourselves,” said Scott Nemeth, assistant director for leadership programs at the McCain Institute, when he addressed the cohort during a visit to the John S. McCain Memorial near Trúc Bạch Lake, the site where Senator McCain was captured during the Vietnam War. “As we gather here, I cannot think of a better place to conclude your journey as a McCain Global Leader than at this memorial and in Hanoi. Because the memorial behind me represents all of the core tenants each of you and this program represent.”

“We are far from where we need to be as a global community. We are far from having the world we hoped for. But we do not give up the fight, and we know now that service is intertwined with friendship like Senator McCain proved in his life,” said Rita Saias, 2023 McCain Global Leader from Portugal. “We are all on to even greater things. Let’s lean on each other, let’s keep being humble, let’s continue to serve a cause greater than ourselves: democracy.”

“Just as Senator McCain was known for working across the aisle, we must remember that friendships can be bridges to understanding, compromise, and progress. Despite our differences, we all share a common purpose: to build a better future for our communities, our nation, and the world,” said Alex Luong, 2023 McCain Global Leader from the United States. “Our generation is faced with the urgent task of addressing complex problems; problems that often require us to bridge the gaps and find solutions together. In the spirit of McCain, we must put the interests of our global principles above politics, and we must be open to working with people whose views differ from our own. This is not a call to abandon our principles, but an invitation to embrace the ideals of dialogue and compromise. Our world’s history is replete with examples of leaders who set aside their differences for the greater good, and we should do the same.”

While in Vietnam, the 2023 McCain Global Leaders visited the McCain Memorial on the banks of the Ho Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi, as well as the Hoa Lo Prison Relic, formerly known as the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where Senator McCain was held as a prisoner of war for over five years. This visit coincided with Veterans Day in the United States. The Global Leaders also participated in service projects while in Da Nang, including spending time with children at the Da Nang Association for the Victims of Agent Orange’s Daycare Center One and working at a local kitchen for cancer patients at Da Nang’s hospital.

The 2023 cohort was comprised of 28 McCain Global Leaders representing 27 countries, all associated with this year’s theme of defending democracy. Three members of the McCain Global Leaders Global Advisory Council joined the 2023 Legacy Experience: Leon Toh of Singapore, Juliet Mureriwa of South Africa, and David Kirk of the United States.

“It has been an incredible privilege to walk beside this group of leaders as they trace Senator McCain’s footsteps in this country of great significance to the Senator’s own leadership journey,” said Juliet Mureriwa, a member of the McCain Global Leaders Global Advisory Council. “Senator McCain’s lifelong dedication to ‘service above self’ is an incredible north star for you all, and for all of us, and this program’s focus on character-driven leadership is extraordinary and unique.”

Learn more about the McCain Global Leaders program here.

The McCain Global Leaders listen to a conversation with former Senator McCain advisor Virginia Foote in Hanoi, Vietnam.


The McCain Global Leaders joined kids from the Da Nang Association for the Victims of Agent Orange for a service project at Section 30 in Da Nang, Vietnam.


McCain Global Leaders from the Africa region listen to a tour guide during the cohort’s visit to the Hoa Lo Prison Relic, formerly known as the “Hanoi Hilton” where Senator McCain spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war.


McCain Global Leaders, alumni and Global Advisory Council members at the 2023 Legacy Experience welcome dinner in Da Nang, Vietnam.


About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
The McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization inspired by Senator John McCain and his family’s dedication to public service. We are part of Arizona State University and based in Washington, D.C. Our programs advance democracy and human rights, empower character-driven leaders, combat human trafficking, and prevent targeted violence. Our unique power to convene leaders across the global political spectrum enables us to make a real impact on the world’s most pressing challenges. Our goal is action, not talk, and like Senator McCain, we are fighting to create a free, safe, and just world for all.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Publish Date
November 27, 2023