The road that lies ahead….
Although today was the last official day of traveling into the office for my summer internship with the Millennium Campus Network, the real work is just beginning. Our conference is September 14-15 and now the most important work lies ahead: tying up loose ends, confirming last minute speakers, coordinating logistics. We are all committed to making sure the conference is a meaningful experience to match the passion and dedication of the hundreds of students it is designed for and are prepared to continue our work on our campuses this fall.
But with the closing of this chapter of the internship comes an interesting set of emotions. I am sad that I won’t see the other interns until the conference because they have become great friends over the past three months. I am relieved that I don’t have to get up at 6:30 every morning to catch a train into Boston. I am grateful for this unique opportunity. But most of all, I am excited for what lies ahead.
I am so excited for the conference because I know about all the hard work that went into its planning. Cinnamon, Menda, and Beckylee have made thousands of phone calls to students, academic departments, and campus clubs to advertise and promote the conference. Outreach Interns only begins to describe the work they were engaged in. Try Social Media, Brainstorming, and Outreach Superstars. Alex is dedicated to the planning the Global Generation Awards, a ceremony where the Millennium Campus Network honors leaders who serve as an inspiration for our generation. This year’s honorees include 2011 Noble Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste Emilia Pires, USAID Chief Economist Steve Radelet, and Oxfam America Vice President for Policy and Campaigns Paul O’Brien. In addition to planning this ceremony, Alex has helped out wherever she is needed. Sam oversees our work while simultaneously steering the organization and setting the framework for an impressive future. Nate and Noreen make sure all the loose ends are tied together. I can’t wait to see the results of this work at the conference!
Here is a picture of us on our last day in the office:
Looking back over the past three months, I realize how much I have learned. I learned about teamwork and the challenges to and importance of clear communication. I got a behind-the-scenes look at how a non-profit is run, and learned about the significance of maintaining partnerships and thinking about the future. I was able to form relationships with a number of other organizations involved in the movement for poverty alleviation. I saw in action the significance of deep community and am ready for this conference to kick off! I am very grateful for this opportunity. I want to thank the Show Me Campaign for this amazing summer fellowship and the Millennium Campus Network for this internship. I hope to meet all the other fellows at the Millennium Campus Conference and hear their stories of their summer adventures!
Strengthening a Network
Our tiny team at the Millennium Campus Network is hard at work, striving to create a meaningful and thought-provoking experience to match the passion and dedication of the students who will attend the conference this September. In my last post, I wrote about the beginning of my journey to understand the work the MCN engages in and why they do it… why we do it. Everything that I have learned so far in this internship comes down to one word: community.
The Millennium Campus Conference provides a platform for students engaged in poverty alleviation efforts, both domestically and internationally, to come together, learn from, and support one another’s work. As I am learning, building a deep community of people with similar values is at the heart of any movement. The ideas of pragmatic solidarity and accompaniment that Dr. Paul Farmer and others speak about and practice are central to any movement for social justice, but this is a topic for another blog post.
This sense of community begins in the heart of the Millennium Campus Network… the office in Boston. Although everyone is hard at work making phone calls, sending e-mails, and scheduling meetings, there is a sense of shared commitment to the organization… and to each other. It’s the little things that exemplify this commitment: Menda brings in extra fresh strawberries just for us to eat at lunch. Cinnamon opened her home to me when I had to stay late for a meeting. Beckylee always has a kind word to say… or a fun fact. Alex has a quirky response to share when you most need a laugh. Nate is always there with an answer to any question. Sam looks out for great opportunities for us, in the midst of steering this organization.
In addition to the student leaders and office staff, there is another extension of the MCN community. There’s a whole team of students at Northeastern University helping to make this conference a reality. I met with this team for the first time last week. I only knew one of themembers prior to the meeting, Allyson, who has been one of the greatest supporters throughout this internship so far. At the meeting, I was amazed by the team’s dedication to the MCN and commitment to each other. The head of this team even told me to let her know if she could do anything to help the office staff.
The Show Me Campaign has also provided additional community this summer. This past week, the Millennium Campus Network hosted our first National Social Media Day for the conference. I reached out to the Show Me Campaign and they passed the information on to the other fellows. This act of support means a lot.
All of these micro-communities (the office, NE team, conference attendees, partners) coalesce into one larger network of supporters. And this network is always open to new members.
Despite this overwhelming sense of community, I have to admit that it sometimes has been difficult to work in an office this summer because I feel isolated from the issues I am passionate about. During the school year, I volunteer though direct service… mentoring kids at an afterschool program, teaching adult language learners at an ESL program, supporting FACE AIDS. I read the blogs of the other SMC Fellows and am inspired by their work, closely interacting with the people they serve. I have come to realize, however, that this is exactly what the Millennium Campus is all about: creating a network for people engaged in a variety of efforts for social justice to come together as one community of supporters. And for the summer, I am committed to strengthening this network. This starts with this conference in September. Hope to see you there!
From Passion to Pragmatic Action
From Passion to Pragmatic Action. This is the theme over 1,000 student leaders engaged in development and poverty alleviation efforts will be discussing at the Millennium Campus Conference this September. It is also the theme of my journey with the Millennium Campus Network this summer.
I am interning as the Director of Conference Speaker Coordination for the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) in Boston. Like most interns, one of the first things I was taught was how to talk about the organization. This seemingly simple concept is actually a quite intriguing topic. Understanding and conveying what you do is important. But more important is understanding why you are doing it.
The Millennium Campus Network understands the significance of both of these points. I have almost perfected the ‘what’ pitch: “The MCN is a national non-profit that empowers student leaders to fight global poverty. We support the work of students through our mentorship program, grant allocations, and the annual conference. At the Millennium Campus Conference, over 1,000 student leaders convene to engage in conversations surrounding global development, attend skill-building workshops taught by thought leaders and practitioners, and network to explore collaboration and share experiences with other students. It is always a great weekend. This year it is being held September 14-15 at Northeastern University in Boston. Would you like to register? Great! Sign up at mcc2012.org!”
The ‘why’ question is a bit more challenging and does not have such a clean answer. It is also a very personal question. People care for a variety of reasons. That’s the passion part. But why do people act… or not act? What makes someone want to devote their life to a specific cause? What are the barriers that prevent passionate people from doing so?
I think in order to serve in the most honest and effective way, it is important to dig deep and ask these questions. This is something that we have actively discussed in the MCN office. Why am I engaged in this work? What role is the organization I am working with playing in the movement to end extreme poverty? There are no easy answers to these questions and we have only begun to reflect on them. But for me, my passion lies in global health. I am committed to working towards global health equity because I believe health is a human right. Health affects all other aspects of life, and the poverty and disease cycle cannot be broken without ensuring access to affordable, comprehensive, community based, and dignified healthcare. Millions of people die because they lack this care. It is a grave injustice, especially since we have the resources to treat, care for the sick, and prevent what Partners In Health’s founder Dr. Paul Farmer calls “stupid deaths”.
This summer, I am seeking to transform this passion into pragmatic action. I am part of an organization that provides community for students engaged in development. The MCN understands that working together is more effective than polarized efforts and challenges students to reflect on the work they are engaged in. My role with the MCN is to help shape the content of the fall conference by recruiting speakers to meaningfully engage and enlighten student leaders. And I am motivated to embark on this journey and explore these questions with the amazing team at the MCN office. I look forward to sharing my summer at the Millennium Campus Network with you and the Show Me Campaign!
Announcing our 2012 Show Me Campaign Fellows
Congratulations and a warm welcome to our 2012 Show Me Campaign Fellows! Visit the Fellows page to meet these 10 amazing students and learn about the organizations they will be supporting this summer. From Philadelphia to Paraguay, they will be working hard to improve education and alleviate poverty using innovative solutions.
Follow this blog all summer to read about the Fellows’ unique experiences and gain new insights into how YOU can help change the world for the better.
The Show Me Campaign Team