This year, you took on hunger. You inspired your peers to care, dreamed up creative fundraisers to help hungry people, and boned up on trivia to raise rice on Freerice.com. You showed us how your bright future begins by ensuring a bright future for others -- and a better world for all of us.
We often say that students can make an extraordinary difference on hunger. To kick off 2013, however, we thought we’d introduce you to some of the students who inspired us this year. We pulled together this year in review to showcase all that WFP Students like you accomplished around the world in the fight against hunger in 2012.
What did it mean to be a WFP Student in 2012? It meant showing the world that when we work together, we really can solve hunger.
In January, you told the world that hunger is solvable.
From the halls of your university campuses to your dynamic Twitter-feeds, this is the message you shared with your community to kick off 2012: Hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem.
Talk about a New Year’s resolution. You showed your peers that solving hunger is about more than a full plate. Solving hunger makes economies stronger and builds the brains and bodies of the next generation – students like you. Together, we discovered the role we all have to play in solving hunger – regardless of our age or what we like to study at school.
In February, one Norwegian student turned to social media to inspire others.
While finishing up his studies in Norway, Daniel Arukwe applied to the WFP Students online internship programme. He dreamed of taking his efforts raising awareness about hunger on social media to the next level and of tapping into a passionate global community of students like him. Throughout his month as an online intern, Daniel learned the real power of social media: connection. He discussed the issue of hunger with his peers around the world and challenged his community to do more to solve it.
This online internship experience and his deep interest in hunger solutions propelled Daniel to visit WFP field operations in Malawi while studying abroad. You can read his blog about the experience here.
In March, university students in the U.K. made solving hunger fashionable on campus.
At the University of Bath, students hosted a fashion show fundraiser in March to shine the spotlight on the issue of hunger. Students Ismini Petrides and Tatiana Emberson designed the show with an “East Meets West” theme to forge connections between the East and West using fashion and music – and show that hunger knows no boundaries. The fashion show incorporated music, photography, and innovative fashion designs from University of Bath students to get the university community excited about making a difference.
In April, students in Sweden changed the tune on hunger.
What if a famous musician came to your school to perform and help raise money for WFP? That’s what happened at the Helenholms School in Sweden when one student named Erica watched a WFP commercial on television and set out to inspire her classmates to make a difference.
She convinced the popular Swedish musician Tingsek to come play at an unlikely venue – the high school gym – to motivate her peers to raise money for WFP’s efforts solving hunger. They raised enough money to provide nearly 560 meals through WFP’s school meals programme, giving students like them the opportunity to learn.
In May, one Canadian university resolved to solve hunger with a campus-wide initiative.
Jonathan Courtney, a student at Carleton University in Canada, came up with an idea that would show his peers how solving hunger can be integrated into their daily lives: he wanted to introduce a campus referendum that would add US$2 to the student fees every Carleton student pays each year to be donated to WFP. With the help of his determined friends at Carleton, Jonathan garnered the necessary support for a resounding “yes” vote, convincing students across campus how big of an impact they’d make on solving hunger – and in the lives of students like them. With his powerful idea at stake, Jonathan’s passion and hard work paid off. This means each student will pay just an extra US$2 a year – and US$44,000 will be donated to WFP each and every year.
“The idea that we can all give up something as insubstantial as US$2 and do something as incredible as providing 160,000 meals to hungry children really shows the power of collective action,” Jonathan said.
In June, students across Germany and Austria raised over four million grains of rice on Freerice.com.
When the WFP office in Berlin, Germany challenged students to a friendly competition on Freerice.com, classrooms throughout Germany and Austria came together to learn new facts, make a real difference in the lives of hungry people, and win the grand prize: a trip to the WFP office in Berlin.
Students spent their free time between classes and after school on Freerice and quickly saw how small actions really add up to help the hungry. One teacher named Patrick Vollmer from a high school near Stuttgart, Germany inspired his students in particular. A long-time fan of Freerice as a great teaching tool, his students won the competition and the opportunity to see WFP in action.
In July, students from around the worldlive blogged about inspiration.
Having a nutritious lunch gives students across the globe the fuel to go after their goals. That’s why after BBC World Class aired an incredible video about the WFP school meals programme in Nepal, they hosted a live blog that brought together students for a vibrant conversation on inspiration. The students from the school in Nepal featured in the video logged on for the discussion, as did students from a WFP-supported school in Kenya, along with students from the U.K., South Africa, and the Ukraine.
As students discussed what inspires them to chase after their dreams, it was clear just how powerful a school meal is: lunch is the fuel of inspiration.
In August, two teenagers in the U.S. showed we can all be heros.
On World Humanitarian Day, we asked: what exactly does it mean to be a humanitarian? We celebrated people working to improve the lives of others, both in our community and around the world. Two teenagers in the U.S. named Michaela and Savannah answered us loud and clear. Being a humanitarian, they showed us, has nothing to do with how old you are – and everything to do with how you inspire others.
They encouraged their peers to join them in taking on hunger by hosting a creative school fundraiser modelled after their favourite book and movie: The Hunger Games. As a result, the school raised enough money to provide meals for some 2,632 hungry people through WFP. True humanitarians, now Michaela and Savannah are brainstorming how to make an even bigger difference in the future.
In September, university students showed us that solving hunger begins with sharing why you care.
The idea was simple, but powerful – and in the hands of these determined university students it became a movement. Called Why Care?, the student-led campaign encouraged people to write why they care about solving hunger on a white board, take a picture of themselves holding it, and then share it on the Why Care? social media networks.
It began with a handful of creative students involved with Universities Fighting World Hunger – a grassroots coalition of university students fighting hunger that works in partnership with WFP – but soon spread to people from all walks of life across the globe. From celebrities like Christina Aguilera to Charles Barkley to students in Kenya, individuals shared powerful, personal reasons for caring, and in turn stitched together a community coming together to make a difference.
In October, one science student (and multi-talented WFP Japan intern) took on the global stage.
Daisuke, a Japanese-American chemistry student at Yale University – was like many students when he first started interning at the WFP liaison office in Japan: He was passionate about solving hunger but didn’t know how his studies would help him make a difference. Then, during his internship he heard about an essay competition hosted by the International Monetary Fund. He channelled all he’d experienced and learned working at WFP to write an essay about how the economy impacts peoples’ lives. This chemistry student transformed into a young diplomat when his essay won him the competition – and a trip to the annual meeting between the IMF and the World Bank. Most importantly, Daisuke discovered the incredible impact his voice can have on hunger.
And across the globe, students in the Nordics learned about one incredible girl from Nairobi, Kenya …
Classrooms across the Nordics were talking about a girl named Molly from Kenya in October. Molly receives a WFP meal at school every day, and her story became the centrepiece of a “Teach Hunger” campaign throughout the region. Teachers used WFP lesson plans to share Molly’s life and opportunities with their students. As a final twist in both of the plans was one optional task: writing a letter to or creating a painting for Molly. A few days after the campaign deadline, big envelopes started arriving at the office. When opened, kind words and colourful drawings for Molly from children in Sweden, Norway, and Finland started pouring out.
All of the greetings have now been sent off to Molly, but you can see in these pictures how a girl named Molly inspired students around the globe by sharing her story.
In November, students in North America scored against hunger.
Students around the world know how much goes into preparing to get into a university. There are essays to write and tests to study for. Thanks to a partnership between Kaplan Test Prep and Freerice.com, students in North America had the opportunity to see how giving back to help the hungry is a critical step to their bright future. Students competed in the month-long “Score Against Hunger” competition hosted by Kaplan on Freerice.com to win a college scholarship – and a donation in their name to WFP’s lifesaving operations.
Along the way, they practiced skills on a wide variety of subjects – from actual SAT test prep to geography – and raised rice to make a real difference in the lives of hungry people. Most importantly, the students discovered how doing good isn’t just an extracurricular activity: it can be easily integrated into their busy daily lives. For WFP Students, doing good is a way of life.
In December, the fight against hunger went red.
Food and nutrition are critical to tackling HIV/AIDS. That’s why each December 1st, WFP joins the millions of voices raising awareness of World AIDS Day. World AIDS day is a day for people worldwide to show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS, celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against the disease, and commemorate the 25 million who have died from the disease.
Students learned how WFP integrates food and nutrition support into the HIV response for the world’s poorest. The efforts of students like you had a global impact. By raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and hunger, you helped lead us one step closer to ending both.