Authors: Nara McCray & Samjulien Carlishe
As Green For All Ambassadors for Alabama A&M University, during the 2011-2012 school year, we focused our efforts on raising awareness about water issues. During the fall semester we concentrated on raising broad awareness about water issues. We held workshops and forums on international, national and local water topics. We wanted to start by implementing change on the historic campus of AAMU. Our specific mission was to reduce bottled water use at our university.
While developing a curriculum for our peers, we ourselves learned much about the positives of drinking tap water, the negatives of drinking bottled water, and how to organize and operate events. The experience connected us with many allies and new friends at our university, as well as many others from different Historically Black Colleges & Universities.
We were thrilled that our efforts were recognized by Bill Clinton’s organization known as Clinton Global Initiative University. We had a chance to participate in the organization’s conference a few weeks ago. It was an honor to have CGIU recognize us; they told us our work was inspiring and could help motivate other student to pursue their goals. We were inspired, too.
The conference brought together over 1,200 students who are committed to creating change throughout the world. There were a number of celebrities and entrepreneurs involved including Jon Stewart, Usher and Majora Carter who shared their personal stories of successes and failures. It was interesting that many emphasized that failure was necessary in order to experience success.
Also, we were surprised to learn that many of the entrepreneurs who spoke began their humanitarian work while in undergraduate school. We were honored to be one of the few recognized by CGIU for our commitment. The highlight was that we actually got to meet former President Bill Clinton while at the service event on Sunday. Unlike many others, our initiative was not “global” or an innovative business plan.
But our focus on reducing wasteful bottled water use on campus also raised awareness about disparities in access to drinking water that exist around the world. This opportunity has inspired us to dream big. We can literally do anything as long as we have the motivation!