Clinton sponsors student summit on global issues

Paul Takahashi

Last year, Heidi Dessecker spent her spring break working at home.

This year, the Weinberg sophomore will discuss climate change, global health and poverty with former President Bill Clinton as a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative University conference.

“It’s mostly a networking opportunity to share ideas and see what’s working for people and what’s not,” Dessecker said.

The inaugural youth conference is an offshoot of the Clinton Global Initiative, which encourages global leaders, non-governmental organizations and business people to convene in New York every year to discuss solutions to global problems and make commitments to implement them. This year, the initiative created a venue, Clinton Global Initiative University, for 500 students from across the U.S. to make similar commitments and network with student leaders.

“We’re expanding the CGI because young people have proven they’re enormously committed to changing the world and they have enormous power to do so,” Clinton said during a conference call with college journalists. “There are all kinds of things going on all over this country. We want to highlight them, show America what young people are doing and give you a chance to do what other people are doing at the regular CGI conference do: leverage their efforts to have a bigger impact.”

The Clinton Global Initiative University is scheduled for March 14-16 in New Orleans, La. Students attending the conference will spend one day discussing global problems and one day volunteering in the reconstruction efforts of the hurricane-damaged city.

The director of the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern will attend the conference to lead small student group discussions to dissect featured speakers’ ideas.

“I’m most excited about the young people who will be there sharing their own experiences, said Nathaniel Whittemore, Weinberg ’06, the center’s director.

Members from NU’s Global Engagement Summit said they hope to send some students to the conference to see how they can improve their third annual summit in April. The summit brings together representatives from organizations and 65 national and international student delegates to discuss how they can apply the skills they learn at school to better the world.

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