It’s now almost two months since the Talloires Network Leaders Conference. The global gathering for our network exceeded all expectations. In particular, this conference was enhanced by a motivated, insightful, and dynamic cohort of student leaders. This group of 40 students was selected by TN partners from the Youth Economic Participation Initiative, our steering committee, MasterCard Foundation, the Local Organizing Committee, and the University Volunteers Program, among others.
We need to change the top-down approach to how we do ‘development’ in our communities – Critically questioning the way universities are dealing with poverty and inequality. There are so many innovative and exciting initiatives out there, and this is what we need to be celebrating, empowering individuals to come up with their own solutions to problems that only they fully understand.
Another key learning for me was about social inclusion – I struggled with the question of how universities address entrenched stigmas and stereotypes relating to race, gender or class, acknowledging that awareness is only the first step of breaking down these barriers. Within our various countries we are working with different historical and social narratives, and we need to be constantly reflecting on how our institutions are perpetuating a certain narrative of privileged/unprivileged or successful/unsuccessful or any other kind of single sided story. Social inclusion needs to be at the heart of our learning experience.
Naqvi’s thoughts on development and social inclusion echo the conversations that marked TNLC 2014 as a tremendous opportunity. Stay tuned on our TN blog as we continue to bring the voices of student leaders throughout the year.