Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hope for the Future

This guest blog post was written by Jillian Forte, a Nuclear Age Peace Foundation intern since September 2010. Jillian was joined by three other NAPF interns - Justin Galle, Jameisha Washington and Olivia Wong - at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) summit in San Diego at the beginning of April.

NAPF interns Justin Galle, Olivia Wong
and Jillian Forte at CGIU in San Diego.
To all of the older generations who wonder about the future resting in our hands, all I have to say is not to worry. After attending the Clinton Global Initiative University, my faith in my own generation has been restored and is stronger than ever. During the three day conference, almost 2,000 university students and many professionals, including of course, President Bill Clinton, attended the conference to discuss ideas and action plans to instill positive global change. In addition to being greatly inspired and motivated, I have also been assured the world is in fact being changed for the better because the ideas brought forth by students in their late teens and early twenties.

The main reason I was so inspired was meeting and talking to hundreds of brilliant students who are dedicated to making changes felt around the world. It’s easy for the older generations to see us as “lost,” caught up in celebrity drama, and tuned out of world affairs, but anyone would be convinced otherwise if they had seen what I experienced at CGIU. With so many innovative and progressive ideas flying around, it was easy to get lost in conversation and in each person’s unique vision to make the world a better place.

What set us apart from the rest of the commitments was our universal, comprehensive goal: to stand for peace, to strengthen international law, and to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Every one of the commitments is important and these incredible ideas are undoubtedly changing lives around the world. What really made us stand out was our worldwide commitment, where as the majority of the commitments are focused on a specific area of the world. Not only does our commitment cover the entire planet, but I was surprised how easily I could relate my ideas of global change to every other commitment I encountered. For example, I connected with groups dedicated to improving environmental degradation, clean energy, public health, human rights, and world peace. We have a very unique commitment to action asking people join us in this global struggle. Nuclear weapons are not an issue to be taken lightly. Our issue, and in turn our commitment, is a worldwide problem that potentially effects every single person on Earth. Perhaps it was this way of thinking that got us invited to the Clinton Global Initiative in the first place.

One of the many reasons I left with such a positive feeling after the conference was how well my group’s commitment resonated with others. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised that these globally minded students supported advocating peace, strengthening international law, and abolishing nuclear weapons. In the networking sessions it was almost funny to see so many people rushing around talking to as many others as possible in order to get the word out about their respective commitments. In retrospect, its pretty amazing that I had so many engaging conversations in such a short amount of time. The only thing I can think of to accurately portray my experience at CGIU is a quote by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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