Hope After the Global Engagement Summit

Global Engagement Summit

Like many Americans, I often feel uncontrollable dread. The news echoes the political rhetoric of fear and hopelessness. Climate change, poverty, and violence constantly loom over us. Worry for the future keeps me up many nights. This past week, at the Global Engagement Summit (GES), for the first time in a long time, those worries faded away. Today, I am filled with hope.

The Summit gathers student changemakers from around the world, to assist them in maximizing social impact.  One of the few American delegates to attend the event, I met some truly inspiring and incredible people from around the world. Each of the 27 delegates at GES are engaged in early stage projects that will make meaningful change. The projects are in different countries, run by people of different backgrounds, and tackling different problems.  But what holds them all together in my mind is the hopeful determination their leaders bring to the effort of making good in the world.

There are indeed many challenges across the globe, but over the past few days I met students actively combating some of the biggest problems we face. A brilliant woman named Dalia from Sudan is utilizing the technology to reforest her country, to prevent the widespread desertification threatening the region. Isaac from Nigeria is providing teens all over his country the opportunity to learn how to code and providing them the means to enter the virtual workplace. Aprilya is an entrepreneur from Indonesia is revolutionizing recycling methods for her country, utilizing the internet to provide employment and a less polluted world. Two men from Yemen are developing ways to educate youth in warzones.

Returning to my room every night brimming with enthusiasm, I chatted late into the evening with my roommate, Lorenzo, who is working to improve the Italian education system. The summit is a breeding ground for collaboration and innovation. While I received input and ideas from dozens of students, experts in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, and educators, the best thing I come away with is optimism. I am grateful for the Northwestern University students who run the Summit, and my network expanded with new mentors and guides, and with contacts who give me confidence that some of the world’s most intractable problems can be made better.

Among the valuable skills and insight into development and social entrepreneurship, my most important takeaway is in the relationships and the hope for the future that this summit provides. These relationships have provided me with new friends from across the country and the globe reached meaningful depth in such a short time, because we are united in an effort to change systems for the better. Thanks to the GES team and the Werth Institute at UConn I leave this Summit hopeful that this will be the generation that mobilizes the change our world needs.

-Christian Heiden
Founder, Levo International Inc.

2019Eric Melanson