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Changing the World

May 18, 2010

Thirteen hundred students, including Rachel D’Antonio ’11 and Sharelle Thompson ’10, came together in Miami in April to pledge to make the world a better place. This was as part of former President Bill Clinton’s third annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). The students, along with about 80 college and university presidents, were eligible to attend if they committed to one of the conference goals, which ranged from alleviating poverty to addressing issues of environmental sustainability. This year an additional focus was on the disaster in Haiti, with administrators and students from the devastated Haitian university system providing personal accounts of the tragedy. The Rector (Chancellor) of the national university there reported that all of the campus buildings were destroyed and more than 220 students and 40 faculty and staff were killed, while the Rector of the Universite Notre Dame d’Haiti explained that, with homes and workplaces destroyed, the students who survived no longer had the resources to pay tuition.

Among the workshops that I attended was one in which there were about 80 representatives of newly created non-profit organizations. The creativity and passion of these young entrepreneurs rekindled my belief that there are still many idealistic, altruistic people in our society. It seems to me, however, that a major difference between today’s activists and those of yesteryear is that today the boundaries of place do not necessarily apply. Organizations can connect with their targeted audiences through the resources of the Internet and social media. You Tube, Twitter, and the many newer venues that my generation is only just discovering provide new incubation spaces for ideas and action. It was exciting to listen, learn, and bring some of these ideas and suggestions back to Saint Joseph College.

I look forward to seeing what Rachel and Sharelle do as they move forward on their commitment to address poverty in our capital city, Hartford.

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