As the Talloires Network Coordinator, I spend a lot of my time, well, coordinating. With 50 members from 25 countries around the world, representing thousands of faculty, staff and students, our office stays quite busy. We learn about amazing programs all over the world that are making an impact. So, when our staff arrived in New Orleans to greet our students arriving to attend Clinton Global Initiative – University (CGI-U), I expected to be impressed. After all, they had been selected out of thousands of students, and I had read their well-planned and convincing commitments to action.
I did not, however, expect to be so inspired by them. When you spend the majority of your time thinking about logistics, planning and streamlining, it is easy to get a little distracted. I imagine the same is true for many faculty members and administrators, who face multiple, competing demands on their time.
These students brought back into focus what is most important. They embodied the values of the Talloires Declaration: to create positive change in higher education and the world. Through their passion and commitment, linking their own academic studies with real needs in their communities, they are helping improve lives. And despite the geographic distance between them, they have become a community. They agreed to stay in touch, to support each other’s projects, to give advice and to be leaders on their campuses. They return home as ambassadors of the Talloires Network. They have made this virtual community real and have reminded us that idealism, commitment and purpose are alive and well on today’s college campuses.
– Elizabeth Babcock, Talloires Network Coordinator