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CGIU 2017: Student Reflection

Published: 12 months ago | 0 comments

By Maria Suhail

You are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of t
-Alan Khazei, CEO and Co-founder of Be the Change

This weekend over 1200 students from across the globe committed to making a change in their communities and the world convened at Northeastern University for the 10th Clinton Global Initiative University. In store for us was a weekend packed full of some of the most accomplished, articulate and inspirational leaders of the world who have dedicated their lives to creating a difference. Having the opportunity to hear from former foreign ministers, current congressmen, founders of organizations that have and continue to make real and tangible progress and of course Chelsea and Bill Clinton on some of the most relevant global issues was an incredible learning experience. Their stories and experiences serving as a reminder that there will be struggles on this journey however it is possible to make a change no matter how difficult it may seem now. It was deeply reassuring to be able to interact with individuals who have made careers through their commitments to action.

One of the main things that have stuck with me from the conference is the diversity among the speakers. A speaker who I particularly enjoyed hearing from was Daryl Davis, an African American musician who sought out Ku Klux Klan members and wrote about his experiences and interactions with them. He focused on the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and the dangers of ignorance. To this end he spoke about a particular meeting he had with a KKK member. Halfway through the meeting, there was a strange noise with both Daryl and the KKK member assuming that the other had made the noise. The fear in this situation stemmed from ignorance. He was eventually able to convince many members to quit.

We also had the opportunity to interact with mentors in the spheres we are interested in to help us brainstorm on problems we are facing with our commitments. Additionally being surrounded with such motivated and creative student members with very unique commitments facilitated networking and collaboration to help us further our commitments to action.

The conference turned out to be a weekend where I was able to gain knowledge and tips to help my own commitment. In particular the skills session “Strengthening Organizational Capacity” underscored the importance of surrounding yourself with a diverse team that challenges you and seeking out advice from experts in their fields to help you succeed. The conference also allowed me to explore and think about other topics unrelated to my commitment that I feel passionately about. Listening to Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States, on the opioid crisis and how his responsibilities have changed over his years of service to try and tackle this issue emphasized one the major themes of the conference and a quality necessary to be successful in this field is compassion.

In the end I came out reinvigorated, more committed and brimming with ideas. My feeling are best summarized through the following lines by Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

I would like to thank Duke I&E center for their support and constant mentorship. It would not have been possible to gain this incredible experience without them.

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