The Camden Conference presents Matt Ward at the Kennebunk Free Library on Tuesday, January 15 at 6 p.m. In his presentation, “Modern China in the 21st Century,” Ward will discuss China’s rise from poverty to global economic power. He will explore what that rise means for the rest of the world and what it means for the United States specifically.

Ward is a retired Foreign Service officer. He is Past President of the World Affairs Council of Maine and has been an Adjunct Professor at the USM School of Social Work where he taught multicultural social work, and in the Political Science Department where he taught modern Chinese politics. He currently lectures on international issues and consults on cross-cultural matters.

Ward served the United States as a career Foreign Service Officer from 1967 to 1996. Specializing in economic, developmental and humanitarian issues, Matt served in Vietnam (CORDS), Cambodia, Haiti, Myanmar, Iran, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Luxembourg, China (including Taiwan and Hong Kong) and the Sudan. He was a pioneer in developing refugee processing systems for “boat people” arriving on the shores of Indonesia and Singapore, and was the director, in Taiwan, of the school that trained U.S. diplomats in Chinese language, culture, economics, history and politics in preparation for service in China and Hong Kong.

In both the Bush and Clinton White Houses, Matt was Director for European Economies in Transition, the office that oversaw trade, developmental and humanitarian policies for the several nation-states that came into being with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union. Matt finished his diplomatic career as a Senior Inspector for the Foreign Service.

From 1999 to 2003, Matt was the Director for Refugee and Immigration Services at Catholic Charities Maine. Matt is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (BSFS & MSFS). He is a past-President of the Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine (CAFAM) and the Foreign Affairs Retirees of New England (FARNE). He is a member of the American Foreign Service Association and Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired.

This presentation is sponsored by the Camden Conference, which will be held February 22-24, in Camden, Maine. The topic of this year’s conference is: “Is This China’s Century?” KFL is a participating library bringing an extension of this conference to our community.

Learn About the Lunar Eclipse

Scott Negley will be at the Kennebunk Free Library on Saturday, January 19 at 11 a.m. to discuss the total lunar eclipse that will begin on January 20. Negley will also talk about the 2024 total solar eclipse that will be visible in northern New England and he'll review the bright stars and constellations of the spectacular winter sky (which has more bright stars than any other time of the year).

Negley owns and operates a portable planetarium system for presenting astronomy programs to elementary and middle school classes in northern New England. Educated initially as an engineer, a binocular tour of the heavens ignited a passion for the stars that led him to the University of Pennsylvania for an M.S. degree in astronomy and a 40+-year career as an astronomy educator. He has been privileged to convey the splendor of the universe to students of all ages, initially as a university instructor, then as a school district planetarium director, adult school teacher and elder hostel instructor. As a Solar System Ambassador, Scott enjoys the opportunity to educate and inspire others with NASA's magnificent discoveries.

International Golden Retriever Rescue and Adoption

The Camden Conference presents Peter Fitzgerald, Emeritus Professor of Law, and Allyson MacKenna, Executive Director of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, at the Kennebunk Free Library on Tuesday, January 22 at 6 p.m. Their talk, “From Chinese Streets to American Homes: International Golden Retriever Rescue and Adoption,” is free and open to all.

In recent years, pet ownership in China has increased significantly, due in no small part to the development of a large, urban, middle class. China is now said to have the world’s third largest dog population, estimated at more than 27 million animals, and is a booming pet and pet-products marketplace. Many – especially younger – Chinese welcome this development. However, the legacy of the Maoist era when pet dogs were viewed as part of a Western lifestyle that was inappropriate for socialist China is still seen in a wide range of conflicting legal and social attitudes toward pet dogs. Accordingly, alongside the increasing number of pet dogs, there are also persistent social issues with puppy mills, strays, abandoned animals, and even trafficking in stolen pets – and as a result there are a substantial number of Chinese dogs in need of new homes. Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue is one of a handful of breed-specific rescue organizations that works with its Chinese counterparts to bring some of these dogs to the United States for adoption.

This talk will provide an overview of the current status of companion animals in China and how it is grappling with many of the same issues seen in this country and elsewhere, and will also describe YGRR’s specific experience and expertise in handling international rescues and finding new “forever” homes for Golden Retrievers here in New England.

Fitzgerald is a member of the Board of Directors of the Camden Conference and author of the law school text “International Issues in Animal Law.” MacKenna is the Executive Director of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, which was established in 1985 and has placed over 5,600 homeless Golden Retrievers into loving homes. Additionally, YGRR will also bring one or more of its “China dogs” for you to meet at the presentation.

This program is wheelchair accessible. The Kennebunk Free Library is located at 112 Main Street in Kennebunk. For more information please call 207-985-2173 or email us at