POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania — Between classes, social events and work responsibilities, the fight against global poverty may appear daunting to university students. However, students have several opportunities to contribute to the cause. From mobilizing others to studying abroad, there are several easy and accessible ways university students can help downsize global poverty.
One of the most effective ways to join the fight against global poverty is entirely free. Mobilization is a great way to let Congress know which bills are important to an individual and their community. Aspiring activists can mobilize their community to email, call, tweet, comment and write to their representatives. With the reign of a new administration, now is an opportune time to contact the government and mobilize a swarm of supporters for the cause. When mobilizing others, it is essential to recognize one’s audience and adapt the message accordingly. Asking a group of friends to contact a politician on social media may look different from getting a family member to send a letter to Congress.
Another way university students can help downsize global poverty is through diverting expenditure. U.S. citizens spend large portions of their money on “coffee, alcohol, lottery tickets, unnecessary clothes, unused gym memberships” and more. In fact, the typical U.S. citizen spends more than $1,000 on coffee a year and “the average college student spends $900 on alcohol.” While it may be tempting to purchase a new phone case, expensive coffee or a fad toy, diverting that extra $10 to a charitable cause can make a significant difference in the life of an impoverished person.
Students can help by joining philanthropic university organizations. Groups, such as ONE, dedicate themselves to educating students about the effects of global poverty. In 2007, the group launched the ONE Campus Challenge to mobilize students to take action in the fight against global poverty. Students, faculty and alumni work together to advocate and urge political leaders to support agendas that help those facing the impacts of global poverty. University students can join a similar group on campus or create their own clubs or chapters.
Educating others is one of the most important aspects of combating global poverty. For those that do not experience it, poverty is a very foreign and intangible concept. Educating others can put an end to the exclusion and marginalization of those facing the impacts of global poverty. For this reason, organizations and clubs focusing on global poverty education play an essential role in the fight against poverty.
Service-Learning Abroad and Donations
Students can help downsize poverty while studying at the same time. Several colleges and universities offer service-learning abroad, which combines studying abroad with charitable service. Students are given opportunities to volunteer at local schools, nursing homes and orphanages in impoverished communities. Students can accomplish all of this while still taking classes to obtain college credit.
In an interview with The Borgen Project, student Carri Yeager describes her study abroad trip to India. There, she was able to visit some of Asia’s largest slums and educate herself on the cultures and inner workings of the communities. Yeager tells The Borgen Project that “learning about poverty in the area you are studying is a good first step and then making donations or volunteering whenever you can is good too.” She says further, “I don’t really think people can understand the impact poverty has on India without actually seeing it.” She encourages anyone with the opportunity to take such a trip.
Yeager provides advice for those passionate about advocacy. She says, “even if students don’t have the ability to go abroad, there are ways they can fight against global poverty.” By educating oneself and others, donating to poverty relief organizations and volunteering, students in the U.S. can create global change. In addition to monetary donations, students can donate unused and gently used items. Organizations worldwide dedicate themselves to collecting and sending clothes to impoverished countries or donating the funds made through the sale of these clothes to countries in need.
Attending Special Classes
Finally, university students can explore their course catalogs to see if their schools offer any classes on global poverty. These classes are a great way to foster new ideas and discussions on global poverty and potential advocacy efforts. Additionally, some institutions offer majors related to global poverty. The University of Arizona offers a Master’s in Development Practice. This degree focuses on battling hunger and poverty globally. It is a part of the Global MDP, a collection of 23 similar degree programs internationally. Students study “global health and nutrition; social systems and sustainable development; natural systems and natural resource management and principles and methods for managing sustainable development practice.” The degree equips graduates with the skills necessary to do humanitarian work for a living.
Students have several philanthropic opportunities throughout their academic careers. For little to no cost, students can contribute to the noble cause of downsizing global poverty. They can help hands-on or from the comfort of their own dormitories. And, students can easily contribute to a worthwhile cause no matter what their budgets and schedules are. With the convenience of charitable work in current day, it is difficult for one to find an excuse not to contribute to the cause of ending global poverty.
– Carly Johnson