I have recently been selected as a fellow with Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB) to attend the Opportunity Collaboration, an annual conference held in October in Ixtapa, Mexico. The conference brings together leaders in the field of global poverty alleviation, and the delegates in attendance represent organizations and foundations from all around the world that are working to fight poverty from all sides of the spectrum—food justice to public health, women’s empowerment to education, just to name a few. The conference convenes both established and emerging leaders in the effort to unleash ideas and discover new ways to fight poverty. However, in order to attend this ground-breaking and meaningful event, I will need to raise some money. As a fellow with TBB, the registration cost has been drastically reduced for me (from $5,000 to $750). I also need to purchase plane tickets, which will cost approximately $800. My goal is to raise $1,500 total.
I am extremely grateful that TBB has given me the chance to participate in this experience. Since taking a gap year with TBB, I have been inspired to do something with my life that will create positive change. TBB also helped me pinpoint the issues that I am particularly passionate about: the environment, sustainable agriculture, and food justice. But I’m a bit stuck right now because I’m not sure what the next step is. I feel that I lack the resources and connections to create concrete solutions. Attending the Opportunity Collaboration will give me the chance to network with and learn from others who have more experience dealing with social justice issues.
More specifically and immediately, attending the Opportunity Collaboration will expose me to concepts that will aid in the development of Real Food Williams, a student organization I helped establish on my campus. So far, Real Food Williams has been dealing more with on-campus issues related to food sustainability, such as developing better labeling in dining halls, determining a definition of “real food,” and promoting more student awareness about the issue. But the next step in our organization will be to expand our efforts to include food sovereignty in the area. Williams is located in an extremely rich agricultural area, yet there are many residents in the surrounding communities who cannot afford the farm-fresh produce that is grown around them. Williams College has a very large amount of influence in the area—the money and power it holds is immense. At the conference, I’d like to discover ideas on how Real Food Williams can partner with the administration to focus on food justice. It will be a fantastic venue to learn about how others have found solutions to issues in the same field.
From attending the Opportunity Collaboration, I expect that I will gain a greater perspective on how actual change is created. I will be able to see the numerous complexities that are involved, but I’ll also be able to learn what it takes to develop solutions from delegates who have succeeded in doing so. Right now, being a “proactive agent of change” is a pretty abstract goal for me. I really have no idea what it’s going to take. But I expect that the Opportunity Collaboration will help to make it a more tangible thing to strive for.
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Thank you all so much!