By Emery Younger
On March 6 next week, four St. Lawrence students will be given a chance to make their dreams of changing the world a reality. Winsome Torotich ’17, Rutendo Chabikwa ’17, Luize Eihmane ’16, and Vanessa Chilunda ’17 will travel to Miami next week to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference. President Bill Clinton founded the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005 as a way to bring together leaders from around the world in an effort to solve pressing social and global issues. At the upcoming conference, the four St. Lawrence students will have an opportunity to present their own blueprints to enact global change. The attendees received funding from the offices of both Dean Tolliver and Dean Davis, so that they can present their proposals on how to improve the lives of others.
Chabikwa’s project proposal focuses on aiding at risk youth in her home country of Zimababwe. “With the recent political and economic declines in Zimbabwe many urban youths are turning to drugs,” said Chabikwa. “We need to start looking at these behaviors as a cry for help.” Rutendo’s project aims to use art as a way to allow youths to express themselves. If funded, Chabikwa’s proposal would allocate funds for to introduce roughly 20 Zimbabwean students to photography, writing, and videography. These students would then go on to train other youths in these areas of expression. Chabikwa also hopes to create a platform where the students’ work could be shared, to allow for heightened awareness of these pressing issues.
Torotich’s proposal also focuses on aiding Africans who are less fortunate. He is originally from Kenya, and created a project that would empower rural Kenyan women through agricultural programs. The project would fund the construction of greenhouses and start classes in proper farming techniques, so women could profit from farming in every season. “I was inspired after visiting the countryside and realizing that a lot of women depend on [the financial assistance of] their children and grandchildren from cities,” said Torotich. “Those without families have to rely on farming, in an area with very little rainfall.”
Both Chabikwa and Torotich have submitted applications to present at the upcoming conference. In the week before leaving for the conference, the four will learn if they have been accepted to present. By presenting, they will become eligible for $3,000 in funding for their projects. They are additionally able to raise further funds through crowdsourcing efforts.
The conference will be attended by roughly 1,000 students from both the United States and abroad. “It will be interesting to listen to other people’s ideas and to see how other students have planned similar projects,” said Torotich. “It will also be great to talk to people who have totally different ideas,” added Chabikwa, “and to challenge ourselves.”
Each student’s project has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of others. However, regardless of whether or not they are able to receive full funding for their project proposals, all four students will have an unparalleled opportunity to enter into a unique discussion of global issues.