By Mary Kate Cronin
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Clinton Global Initiative University on the campus of UC Berkeley. I was joined by 1,000 students from over 80 countries- all committed to addressing our generation’s most pressing challenges. On behalf of AMP Global Youth, I was committed to meeting and documenting some of the unique ways that these inspiring young people are working towards positive change. Many of the stories I heard will soon be featured in our 1000 Visions of Global Change campaign — hyperlink
There were countless speakers that shared their own experiences and advice for CGIU attendees. Here are just a few lessons that stood out to me that I’d like to pass on to you!
- “Your voice is your weapon against injustice.” –Maysoon Zayid
Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian-American comedian living with cerebral palsy. She was one of the first people to ever bring stand-up comedy to the Middle East, unfiltered and uncovered. To me, she embodies fearlessness. Not only has she brought change, all over the world, through her ability to create laughter- but she is also a passionate activist for disability rights and Palestinian refugees. She discussed how powerful our voices are- especially in the age of social media. Each of us has the power to reach thousands with the click of a mouse. As a woman who carries herself with so much confidence and optimism in the face of adversity, Maysoon shared with us that if she had grown up surrounded by the social media bullies she faces today, that she might be have lived to tell her story today. Our words are weapons, and we have the choice to use them to lift one another up, or build the walls that divide us even higher.
- “We should never shy away from our personal stories.” –Amani al-Khatahtbeh
Amani is the founder of the online forum, Muslim Girl. She emphasized the power in our personal stories and circumstances: they allow us to relate and empathize with one another. When we allow ourselves to connect with people on a personal level, no matter how different society may paint us to be, that is the time that we can begin to create positive change. This point really reminded me of the AMP Global Youth community. Allow we each occupy our own corner of the world, we find ourselves able to unite and come together over our shared interests and visions for the future. Through working with AMP, I’ve learned that even a simple article shared on social media that creates a laugh or an outrage has the potential to bring an entire community of people together, united. Each of us brings something unique and important to the table, Amani teaches us that we should never shy away from sharing these!
- “We can’t build a perfect world, only a better one.” – President Bill Clinton
When confronted with some of the most pressing challenges facing our generation, I think most of us would rather leave the fixing to “the professionals” or simply, someone else. But what attending CGIU taught me is that settling to say an issue doesn’t have a solution, or one that we can’t find ourselves, is just no longer an option. In fact, young leaders from all over the world, are already taking huge steps to fight back against “impossible” issues like poverty. The students who attended CGIU were not conventional “experts.” But, as President Clinton explained to all of us, what our generation does possess, is the energy and the desire to collaborate with one another and fight back against the toughest issues we all face. We have ideas. Innovative solutions. Lofty goals. Once we share them with one another, even the simplest, smallest steps can make our world not a perfect place- but surely a better one.
To find out more about CGIU: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/blog/2016/04/02/highlights-cgi-university-2016
To share your visions for global change: bit.ly/1000visions