Clinton Global Initiative University: A Reflection by 2010 Alumni Dipeeka

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When our team submitted the commitment for the CGI U conference, little did we know that it would lead us to one of the best and most inspiring weekends in Miami, Florida. Launched in 2007 by President Clinton, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI U) is a growing community of young leaders who discuss global challenges and take concrete steps to solving them.

Our commitment to action is Artha: Finance for Young Minds, a financial education program for low income and underprivileged youth in Kathmandu, Nepal. Our aim is to address the lack of financial literacy in underprivileged communities by teaching them about personal budgeting, savings, banking options and bookkeeping.

Thanks to the funding from our individual schools (Seton Hill University and Westminster College), we were able to attend the CGI U conference. The conference commenced on March 6th with a Student Networking Reception. Ever since the bus ride into University of Miami, we started networking with amazing leaders and learning about their commitments. The passion and determination shown by each commitment maker was commendable and very inspiring.

After the networking reception, our first plenary session was called “Fast Forward: Accelerating Opportunity for All”. The session began on an exciting note with remarks from Chelsea Clinton and President Bill Clinton. The panelists for the session were America Ferrara, Paul Lorem, Tawakkol Karman, and Vivek Murthy.  As I heard their inspiring stories, be it nonviolent overthrowing of dictatorship in Yemen, combating HIV/AIDS in rural India, working as a Latina activist, or spearheading an agri-business in Kenya despite growing up in a refugee camp; I could not help but agree with Ferrara’s remarks that we cannot silo issues as if they do not affect each other: we are all connected and have a shared future for humanity.

Our plenary sessions on March 7th included discussions on harnessing data and Internet use to address global challenges, and on the future of energy: ensuring access to modern energy through affordable renewable solutions. I also attended a skill session on strengthening organizational capacity, where the speakers Ben Simon and Rachael Chong shared their experiences on recruiting passionate members for our commitments, and scaling them by delegating areas of responsibilities. It was motivating to hear that it is more important to have committed and passionate members on your team, rather than worrying about the number.

Our highlight of the day was a working session on Financial Education: Youth as Economic Citizens. In this working session, our commitment was one of the featured commitments along with The Billhartz Initiative, a financial literacy program for lower income youth in Central Illinois. Both our teams were recognized on stage and awarded a certificate for our commitment by Susan Davis, the founder and CEO of BRAC, USA. The most exciting part of the day was seeing Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on stage, along with Chelsea Clinton talking about The Full Participation Project and Not There campaign emphasizing that women are still not there in terms of gender equality.

We ended the conference on March 8th with a Day of Action, where we volunteered at the Miami Children’s Initiative. It was great to give back to the city that had welcomed us so warmly for an amazing weekend. As we ended the conference, our team is more than excited to start implementing what we committed to!

A huge thank you to everyone supported and helped us throughout this process. A special thank you to Women LEAD for motivating me to have bold visions, and CGI U for inspiring me to commit our visions to actions!

This post was written by 2010 alumni Dipeeka Bastola. Dipeeka currently studies at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania.

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