Student Blog: Power 100 Student Summit
Attending the Power 100 Student Summit
by Aileen Thomson '08
Dear ONE Catawba Members and interested people,
In early Janaury, I had the privilege of attending the Power 100 Student Summit, put on by the ONE Campaign, which is a movement of Americans working toward ending global poverty and addressing the related issues. I was able to attend, completely for free, because of the amazing 2-week effort of many Catawba students who propelled Catawba to number 14 in the nation in ONE's Campus Challenge. Which is no easy feat, since some schools had been collecting points since October. Being there, I was so proud of Catawba and what we had done.
I'd like to say, before I tell you all what I did at the conference, that the message I came out with was that we can make a difference. We, meaning the world, can reach the Millennium Development Goals as set out at the 2000 UN Millennial Summit (mainly to cut global poverty in half by 2015 — more on that later). We, as a nation, can take leadership in this issue and regain our reputation in the world (not that that's the most important part). And we, as students, can make a difference. I learned about successes the movement has had, many of which come from the actions of students such as ourselves. For example, some of you made phone calls to presidential candidates at the end of last semester, asking them to go 'on the record' about the issues relating to global poverty and AIDS. The day or two after that email asking us all to call candidates went out, 1,661 calls were made, and almost all the candidates quickly went on the record with detailed commitments and videos. Visit http://www.onevote08.org/ontherecord/ to compare positions and watch videos. This is a big deal — it is hard for issue campaigns like ONE to get any response out of candidates, let alone commitments.
The speakers I saw at the conference were all very interesting people, including senior fellows from important think tanks, issue experts from international institutions, and political figures who fight for the issues that ONE lobbies for. We learned about specific issues, such as debt relief and malaria, and also about how to organize, how to communicate a message effectively and how to lobby. There were also many chances to discuss campus events and movements with representatives from other schools, learning from their experiences and brainstorming together. Lenoir-Rhyne and Mars Hill had representatives there, and we talked about possibly doing something that involved our schools working together, since we so often compete in athletics.
I also got many ideas for the upcoming semester, including lobbying North Carolina elected officials to vote for certain bills relating to global poverty and AIDS; and an event that raises awareness about fair trade, since both the Lilly Center and the cafeteria serve fair trade coffee now.
I look forward to meeting with everyone to talk about what we can do this semester, and I would love to talk to anyone about any issue that they would like to know more about relating to ONE, since I went to the conference representing all of you, and I feel you should all benefit from it as much as I have.