By Grace Fisher
The world is an ever-growing, yet paradoxically, ever-shrinking place. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent it is made clear that there are so many parts of the world that need help. For some areas this means improving access to healthcare, for others it might mean reducing waste and pollution. These problems are not isolated to one region of the world, nor are they absent from the United States; these are problems that the world faces in unity, and they are being addressed by some amazing students across the globe. Meeting such students was one of the highlights of attending the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), as well as learning about all of the impactful work that they are doing. However, before going too deeply into discussion regarding the people I met and heard from, it would be wise to first share my own commitment.
I attended CGI U alongside two other women with whom I worked to apply for a grant that would allow us to enhance a currently existing project. The program that we are working to enhance is part of the Latino Student Fund (LSF) which provides a variety of services to under-served families and students. One of their services is aiding families and their children in applying to private, parochial, and charter pre-k through 12th grade schools in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. The application process is strenuous and the LSF program seeks to work with individual families and in group settings, on weekends, to ensure families have opportunities and are aware of them. The enhancement aspect of this project will connect student volunteers from the George Washington University with five families each to guide families through the application process. LSF is currently able to work one-on-one with 35 families, and Juntos (the enhancement project) aims to expand support to an additional 50 families. This market is also in dire need of help due to the massively disproportionate ratio of students to counselors in the DC Public School system.
It was fascinating to discuss one’s own project with those of fellow CGI U commitment makers. Each student or group had a dynamic project about which they were passionate and it was wonderful to see them all converge on the University of California Berkeley campus. It created an environment that fostered innovation and a drive to do more. This manifested in asking probing questions of various projects and working to gain both a better understanding of the project and share input. Some of these questions derived from listening to the speakers that orated throughout the weekend, each one detailing their perspective on today’s most pressing issues. CGI U was focused on addressing the problems that plague the world today by gathering together a group of individuals looking to improve the world in myriad ways. I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the conference and hear a diverse group of perspectives and see how my generation is tackling the dilemmas that plague the globe. Congressman John Lewis said it best when he noted, “If you see something that is not fair, not right, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something.” Let us all find ways in our lives to embody these words and stand up for injustices and inequalities, for no act is too small.