Welcome to July! It’s a new month and that means we have a new online intern tapping into her networks to help end hunger and change the world. Meet Cathy from the United States capital of Washington D.C. She’s hoping to start a dialogue that builds a community of students around the globe working to solve hunger.
What do you want to be when you "grow up"?
Over the last five years I have been incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the developing world. I can definitely say that I caught the “travel bug” and hope to have opportunities in the future that allow me to see different parts of the world and experience new cultures. When I grow up, I hope to be able to continue to build new relationships, learn new languages, and engage in social justice work abroad.
Right now, I am studying for the US law school entrance exam, called the LSATs, and eventually plan on attending law school with a focus in International Law and Human Rights. From my experiences in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Subcontinent, I have witnessed firsthand how empowering vulnerable people makes significant differences for entire communities. I hope I can use my law degree one day to work alongside communities that need help most.
What is one important thing you learned from experiences abroad that you hope to convey this month?
During my time in Tanzania, I had the opportunity to live in a student house with six American and six East African university students. I found that not only did we all care about similar global issues, but that together we could come up with better ideas to solve complex problems, such as humanitarian interventions and relief. Working together to come up with solutions to difficult issues, even if we disagreed, not only improved our relationship with each other but resulted in each of us changing our own world views to think of global priorities in a more dynamic way. I came to see how by working together we can create more meaningful and lasting change; I hope my use of social media this month will start a dialogue and build community with other students around the globe, echoing this critical lesson.
How do you think students can use social media for social change?
In the last year, we have all seen the amazing power social media has to spread awareness and lead to meaningful action. Students can use social media to bring a lot of different people together who care about similar issues from all over their country, and even the world – and inspire action. Students can use their personal accounts to get informed, share information with others, and engage their online networks in offline work to make tangible differences. For example, while students can have meaningful dialogue online about global hunger, they can additionally hold an awareness event and further use their online networks to help advertise. Social media is ultimately a chance to promote social change at a much larger level straight from your computer!
Why are you interested in WFP and the work we do around the world?
Ensuring that everyone has access to sufficient nutritious food is not only important for survival, but necessary for healthy child development, learning, productivity at work, and maintaining a healthy and happy life. In fact, individuals and communities can’t improve their lives now or for their children if they don’t have enough food to eat. If our generation is to achieve the many development goals already set in place, we must first solve global hunger because health, infrastructure, education, and economic development simply isn’t effective if people don’t have the energy to learn or work. During my experiences in eight different Sub-Saharan African countries, I have seen the importance that ending hunger holds, whether that be for school children, adults, those suffering from HIV/AIDs, Malaria, or other communicable diseases, and working adults. In addition, I learned the importance of avoiding dependency and empowering communities where possible to ensure we are helping not only now, but also to build a more resilient community and better future.
I am interested in WFP’s work because they recognize the importance of solving hunger, but they also have innovative programs that empower individuals and communities, help build local economies, and strengthen the environment. WFP works with communities to help the people there get the nutrition they need.
What are your hopes for the future?
The internet has incredible power to bring news to even the most remote parts of the world. Poor people in developing countries have more access to information than ever before, and I hope that this new information helps forge understanding, dialogue, and interaction of cultures that ultimately helps build partnership between the developing and developed world. I hope that technology eventually brings all of us to a place where we can work together to solve problems we all care about, such as global hunger and free universal education without discrimination against girls.