“I stepped into this meeting very nervous because I’m surrounded by global leaders who are already experts in their field. But I still went on because I know that it’s not about the age but the goal to make a change”, this was my introductory speech before pitching Checkmyschool in the youth for development session during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, held in New York last 23-25 September 2012.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was created by President Bill Clinton in 2005 in an effort to translate ideas into action. Participants of the meeting analyzed pressing global challenges, discussed effective solutions, and built lasting partnerships for social change. Some of the critical issues discussed were how to provide reliable and safe energy to those in need, how to provide affordable and accessible internet technology, and how to ensure food security for the coming years.
This year’s Annual Meeting gathered global leaders from the government, NGO, private sector, and academe. Present in the meeting were Pres. Barack Obama of USA, Ban Ki-moon of UN, and Jim Yong Kim of World Bank Group. As for me, I was able to have a personal talk with amazing personalities such as Pres. Bill Clinton, Craig Kielburger of Save the Children, and Prof. Mohammad Yunus of Grameen Bank (see complete schedule and list of speakers here: http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/ourmeetings/2012/).
It was a different environment to be in a meeting where you are surrounded by global leaders and famous personalities. There’s a required confidence from the inside and certainty on what you have to say. Talking to them, especially to those you see on TV, was like being on stage and saying your speech multiple times. It may be just me, but being overwhelmed is an understatement.
Overwhelmed and overjoyed – describes my feeling of being in the CGI Annual meeting. Everyone was very inspiring. Each has a story that runs through time and borders. One fascinating story was from Katie Stagliano, 14, a CGI Global Citizen Awardee, who started gardens to supply soup kitchens to alleviate hunger (http://www.katieskrops.com/). Talk about age and commitment.
The commitment I put forward in CGI is Checkmyschool, a project which combines technology and community mobilization to improve education services in public schools. In my commitment, I placed particular emphasis in creating impact by helping schools in solving their issues. This can be done by providing schools the access to information (i.e. informing them of the services they supposed to receive), a platform for sending feedback, and bringing in multiple stakeholders especially governments’ commitment to solve the issues. Through the help of CGI, I am hoping of getting more support – publicity, technical, and resource.
One of the sessions I attended was the Barriers to Information Access. Here we discussed the need to make access to information technology a right, rather than a privilege. Gone are those days that technology, such as internet and mobile phones, are considered a luxury. It is the job of the government to create policies that will make information technology accessible and affordable for everyone. One of the things that we have agreed to commit in this session was to create an alliance which will work on pushing the governments to make information technology as one of their top priorities.
Get it on Twitter
Youth comprises the largest sector of social media users. Since I am one of the young blood in the Annual Meeting, it is just obvious that I am one of those who sent the most number of Tweets. I am not really a regular user of Twitter, but I often use it when there are events that I would like to broadcast. I got new followers because of my CGI Tweets but what’s more motivating are the messages are retweeted and recognized my people especially by my fellow changemakers.
Here are some interesting tweets that I shared:
- In a place where bad things happen, you should make more good things to happen – Clinton #cgi2012
- You never become. You are becoming. – Grashow #CGI2012
- There can only be change if people expect change. – Charles Denson
- “Your life isn’t the one you live but the one you remember.” – Luis Moreno, #CGI2012 awardee, quoting Gabriel Marquez
- We don’t open doors at the expense of other doors. There should be balance. –Pres. Morsi of Egypt #CGI2012 @BCGlobalChange
Check out my Twitter for more #CGI2012 tweets: https://twitter.com/JecelC.
One of the tweets I love was from Tawakel Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, “The development of a nation is not just the responsibility of the people in that country, but a responsibility of the world”. I believe this was the same reason why I was selected to become a member of CGI. I know that it is not just because of Checkmyschool, but because it is my responsibility as part of the world, as part of the global youth, to help in the development of the nations by sharing the learning and opportunities I got from CGI.
Moving beyond the CGI Annual Meeting, I believe that it is just right to make sure that something will really happen from the commitments we placed on the table. These include Checkmyschool and the technology alliance that we are forming.
Provided that I secure permission from my fellow members to share their contact details, I think that it will also be good to link my fellow changemakers to them. The technical expertise, experience, network, and resources from some CGI members, will be very helpful to my fellow youth in advancing their advocacies.
Lastly is sharing the learning and experience that I got from CGI. There are a lot of things that happened in the 3-day meeting, much more on what happened before and after the annual meeting. I am very fortunate to have been selected as the youngest and only Filipino. As a sign of gratitude, I can only promise to inspire others by doing something to make things better. Might this be through teaching, sharing of knowledge, or actual actions, I would be willing to share anything I can as member of CGI (http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/).
I would like to thank the Global Changemakers for bringing me to CGI. Special mention to Fran, Kath and Jen, who have been always supportive and responsive on everything. Thank you to CGI for selecting me as a member. Special mention to Penny, Julian, Sara, Elyse, and of course, Pres. Clinton.
I would also like to thank my fellow Global Changemakers and the rest of the youth who never get tired. May the universe continue to conspire to make our dreams larger than our fears and doubts.