Seeing as I had never been extremely involved with local poverty and never having attended a conference like this, I had no idea what to expect. Once Shane Koyczan began talking, I realized how much potential this conference had. The poems and stories he recited were touching, heartfelt and quite edgy.
Next was Marc Kielburger. Although a more formal speech than Shane’s, Marc’s helped me greater understand the causes of local and global poverty and how to address them. He had three major components to his speech: the Drink Tea philosophy, Gift + Issue = Change and Minga.
The Drink Tea philosophy is the idea that we need sit down and to talk to people in poverty about what they need, not give them what we think they need. This concept is so simple, yet I realized that often when I volunteer I don’t ask the people I’m helping what they need. Now that I have been enlightened about this presumptuous mentality, I will try to make sure I ask the people I’m helping what they need.
The Gift + Issue = Change is a system that says: if you have a talent and you see an issue, you can apply your talent to the issue to make a change. I enjoy this equation because it allows me take anything I’m passionate about, pair it up with an issue, and then make a positive change while doing something I love.
Minga is a word Marc defined as the coming together of people to work for the benefit of all. This led Marc to speak about how it takes many people to make a large change, and how the work people do may not benefit them but certainly benefits somebody.
This conference was inspiring and has made the path to addressing local and global poverty a little clearer.
Last year, students also organized a conference on global responsibility and leadership – read about the event and listen to the keynote speeches here.