Last weekend, UCSB students took part in the annual Clinton Global Initiative, a conference which is hosted by former President Bill Clinton and invites representatives from 300 universities and 75 countries to discuss international political, economic and cultural issues with renowned diplomats and public figures.
The meeting — held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri — discussed numerous issues related to public policy in five core areas: education, the environment and climate change issues, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health. The event also featured renowned public figures, such as journalist Stephen Colbert and economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus. Over 1,000 students attended the conference, with UCSB students Olivia Wong, Alexander Scarlett and Jack John Amend attending the conference as representatives of nonprofit organization Inspire a Child — which was recently awarded the $10,000 Strauss Grant and officially supported by Chancellor Henry T. Yang.
Wong, founder and executive director of Inspire a Child, said she has attended the conference once before and finds much inspiration and knowledge in participating in it. She said the involvement of fellow university students makes the event capable of producing real public policy action regarding prominent global issues.
“The most exciting thing [about CGIU] is that I am constantly pushed by my peers, challenged by their resolve and motivated to pursue my solution to the world’s greatest problems,” Wong said. “CGIU is not just a place to talk about ideas. It’s about turning an idea into action — taking that concrete step towards solving world hunger and ending poverty.”
The conference included three sessions that targeted the main issues of discussion. One session — entitled “Getting off the Ground: Stories of Starting Up” — featured a panel of upcoming entrepreneurs, who shared their knowledge and experience in launching their own businesses. The second session, called “A Better Future for Girls and Women: Empowering the Next Generation,” welcomed professionals and other figures to discuss the many ways today’s youth can make the necessary changes and decisions to give a brighter future to girls and women worldwide. The last session, called “Solutions Without Borders: Working with Unlikely Allies,” brought together legislators and entrepreneurs to discuss the need for international cooperation.
Amend said Inspire a Child’s focus on helping youth is beneficial to the overall international community because the welfare of the world’s youth can greatly influence the welfare of the world as a whole.
“The international community knows full well that a driving force to the end of poverty is universal education, especially towards the younger generations as well as the promotion of women and girls rights,” Amend said.