I know that this is long overdue, but I still wanted to share this experience!
Last month I participated in what is now one of the most unforgettable experiences of my college years: The Clinton Global Initiative University Conference (CGIU) which took place on campus and at the Austin Convention Center. So quite literally, in our backyard. CGIU brought together more than 1,000 students from across the country who submitted about 750 commitments to action in total to create an impact in communities at a local, state, national and international level.
I applied for the conference in early December. The application was, in part, submitting a commitment to action plan, a proposal, a plan, a project that would create a difference in one of the conference’s focus area. My focus area? You guessed right. Education. Through my commitment I am committing to work with public schools in Las Piedras, Uruguay (where I was born and raised) and provide school supplies and didactic materials for the classrooms starting with one school–Escuela Ansina–located jut a few blocks away from where I used to live. I will also work to bring groups of volunteers together to beautify the school grounds. The goal is to start with this school as a pilot program and later expand to other schools, one at a time. It will take a lot of time and work, but I am really excited about making it happen.
Below are some pictures from the school that will be affected by my commitment:
My belief and excitement in making my commitment happen grew even stronger after participating in CGIU. Not only did we hear from empowering speakers (check out the event webcasts), but I felt like I was in my own world with 1,000+ students who attended (Eva was also there!), who were/are so excited about making a difference. It was refreshing to see a group of such enthusiastic, selfless and passionate individuals.
Yes, UT is definitely full of these students and I am blessed to be friends with many of them, but it was really inspiring to see students from all corners of the country come together. What really, really, really impressed me and motivated me even more was the willingness from everyone to help each other.
I had the opportunity to display my commitment during CGIU exchange–in an exhibition/fair setting–for other participants and organizations to learn about my commitment. It was there that that enthusiasm from other members was evident again–when they were open and willing to help in any way, from wherever they are. A student at Cornell University offered to donate recycled computers, several others offered to volunteer in doing anything they could do from their campuses, fellow UT students offered to help me conduct donation drives, and I met a couple of other students who are doing something similar and getting connected will be beneficial to exchange ideas of how we are going about implementing our commitments to action. I was also truly inspired by the commitments that other students were presenting on and again, by everyone’s willingness and enthusiasm to help. It was definitely one of the few opportunities in which I found myself with people I could fully relate to in sharing a sincere passion to serve others.
I truly encourage you to apply to participate in next year’s conference (it will be in a different location which I think is yet to be determined) and/or submit a commitment to action online at www.cgiu.org. You will be glad that you did.
As far as where I am in the process now, I am now formalizing a time line, gathering potential resources, and establishing a connection with the school in Las Piedras. It is definitely a challenge to do it all long distance but I am grateful to have friends in Uruguay who are willing to commit to help with communication and reaching out to the community there when I struggle to do so long distance. It’s a work in progress but I when I left the conference I truly left with a greater belief in the fact that I CAN make this happen–that it can go from paper to action and that it will make an impact…one classroom at a time!