St. Cloud State students networked with peers and participated in a day of action and a commitments challenge at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2014 meeting at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., in March.
The seventh annual conference drew more than 1,000 college students from 50 states and more than 80 countries. The event was open to students who had made a CGI U Commitment to Action to address local and global challenges.
Yi Sun and Jingyi Yang, graduate level teaching majors from Beijing, networked with peers at the conference. Their joint commitment is to collect English reading materials for Shepherd’s Field, an orphanage for children with disabilities in Langfang, China. Sun and Yang’s goal is to collect 1,000 books.
“By sharing our project with others, I also learn a lot from others. We met a group of people who are aiming at the education of immigrant children in Beijing,” Sun said.
St. Cloud State education major Amy Hansen of St. Cloud also participated in the three-day event. Hansen is leading the St. Cloud Inclusive Playground project. The university’s Student Council for Exceptional Children has undertaken the effort to fund and build a playground at Whitney Park for children of all abilities.
“CGIU was a very unique experience…and emotionally draining,” said Hansen. “I found myself wanting to go to Nepal to install solar lights, to Haiti to build houses from recycled water bottles. The people and projects are amazing.”
Hansen was inspired by workshops that encouraged young people in poverty to make changes in their communities. “Who better to make changes in their own community than the youth?”
Conference attendees also took part in a Day of Action, planting trees and painting picnic tables in urban Tempe.
As part of the 2014 CGI U Commitments Challenge, student teams squared off online to crowd-fund their Commitments to Action. The St. Cloud Inclusive Playground has earned $850 in donations to date.
“Currently we are in the fundraising and networking process of our venture. Throughout the summer and next fall we will be meeting with potential donors, applying for grants, and hosting meetings to acquire more allies from the community,” Hansen said.
“CGI U provides us a great platform,” Sun said.
CGI U is an initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Read more about the St. Cloud Inclusive Playground project at www.crowdrise.com/stcloudstateuniversity-cgiu.