More than 700 students, dozens of community leaders, activists and academics gathered in the Fogelman Arena at Tulane University this evening to hear former President Bill Clinton give the day's closing remarks, and to hear about the latest commitments made by the participants of CGI U.
Clinton said that in the past three years, the Clinton Global Initiative has made 1,000 commitments that have affected 100 countries. Over time, he said, "we were struck by how much energy we had coming in every year from young people." So CGI U was born.
On this first full day of CGI U, we have already met so many young people with ideas large and small, all aimed at helping to solve some of the world's biggest problems. Here are just a few of the ideas that have inspired us so far:
At a press conference earlier today, Clinton honored Julie Carney, a senior at Yale, for her commitment. She is a co-founder of Artemis, a project that will preserve history by digitizing and archiving the findings of truth commissioners so that, in the future, we will be able to dig up facts on human-rights atrocities so that they can be dealt with accordingly.
On a more local level, we also met DJ, a Tulane student who was handicapped after an accident in 2002. DJ survived, but with severe brain damage. His commitment is to further expand campus recycling efforts here at Tulane. He told us that although he is now handicapped, his gratitude for survival and new appreciation for life have made him want to give back, and he has become one of the most active leaders of student recycling efforts here at Tulane.
We also met a group of NYU students who launched a campus-wide effort to collect $1 from each NYU student (there are 40,000 students) to raise money for Keep a Child Alive, in an effort to provide anti-retroviral drugs for children in impoverished countries. Because of these lifesaving efforts, the students were wearing T-shirts that said "Drug dealer" — quite the conversation starter ...
Another group of students from Rice University are working to build specialized backpacks for medical workers in sub-Saharan Africa. The backpacks will have medicine and first aid materials that are customized for the specific diseases in each country. The first three countries this will be enacted in are Tanzania, Botswana and Malawi.
People say that our generation is apathetic — today has proved that we are anything but. These are regular college kids doing extraordinary things. It is truly inspiring.
More stories, commitments and students' efforts to come at the end of the week ...