As leaders of the world gather in Washington, D.C. to discuss the future of nuclear weapons and the need for aggressive action to ensure that nuclear materials don't fall into the hands of terrorists, young leaders from across the globe will gather in Chicago, and later in Miami, to address the pressing issues of poverty and the future of youth leadership.
The Chicago conference, called the Global Engagement Summit hosted at Northwestern University is a five-day training conference for students committed to global change. Delegates come together to understand the challenges of and opportunities for their engagement; to hone the skills and mindsets that will enable them to better plan, execute, and participate in change-based projects; and to connect with like-minded peers from around the world.
The Miami Conference is Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU); there, participants will discuss how student activists can make a difference around the world. Over the three-day meeting, attendees will participate in forums and working sessions to brainstorm ways to make a difference.
I have a background in American foreign policy and I now work to make global impact through a social enterprise that depends on the ingenuity of young leaders, so having these three events land in the same week is sends a powerful message: these are the issues of our time. We must expect that the leaders in our community of nations reduce nuclear weapons while we must facilitate extensive, constructive dialogue among youth to ensure that the world moves forward at this critical time.
I want to highlight the power of the Global Engagement Summit (GES) because it has been a significant contributor to ThinkImpact's work for years. In 2007, GES hosted a young woman named Emily Karechio from Nairobi, Kenya. It was her first time on American soil, and while she was at the conference representing her nascent nonprofit, the Muthaa Community Development Foundation, she met a chapter leader from ThinkImpact (then known as Student Movement for Real Change). Emily connected with me and before long, a multi-year partnership developed. Today, ThinkImpact's health trainings for hundreds of people in Kayafungo, Kenya have been successfully implemented due to in large part to her hard work. Her partner on that initiative, Abdallah Mohamed, is now even an employee of ThinkImpact's!
At GES this year, over 60 delegates from 14 countries will gather from April 14-18 at Northwestern University. This year's GES includes opening keynote speaker Brian Bordainick, founder of the 9th Ward Field of Dreams, and closing keynote speaker Leila Chirayath Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource. Workshops will be presented on topics including Community Organizing, Social Media Marketing, and Bottom of the Pyramid Business Models. Keynotes and selected workshops will be streamed live on the GES website throughout the weekend. For more information, visit www.theges.org.
As President Obama said during the campaign: "This is our moment, this is our time!"