OxFam America To Students: You Can Change the World
OxFam America's Gabriel Barreras (top) and Rasa Dawson reminded students at Wednesday's convo that students can change the world.
LAKELAND (Feb. 4, 2009) — Students can change the world.
That was the message at Convocation on Wednesday, when the College celebrated the 6th Annual Week of Impact with speakers from OxFam America. OxFam America is an international relief and development agency that works to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
"You, as students, have the ability to change the face of poverty," said Gabriel Barreras, OxFams lead student organizer.
The Week of Impact is part of SAGA, the College's innovative, broad-based learning program. SAGA–Student Awareness Generates Action–is a campuswide, collaborative initiative for the study of important societal issues designed to prepare students to lead lives as contributing global citizens. The theme for this school year is hunger and poverty, which has been incorporated into academic classes, Convocation, and a number of student activities.
Barreras told the group that more than 6.75 billion people around the world live in poverty, and 2.5 billion must survive on less than $2 a day.
He gave several recent examples of student activism that helped to battle poverty and hunger: working to rebuild houses in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; organizing a boycott against restaurants until they refused to improve wages and working conditions for tomato pickers in Florida; and using the online network Facebook to raise money for victims of violence in Darfur.
Rasa Dawson, who helps to organize Oxfam's emergency efforts in the aftermath of disasters, told of Oxfam's current efforts battling a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. Because cholera is a water-borne illness, safe drinking water is a critical need. In addition to bringing in clean water, Oxfam crews there are helping people dig wells to prevent further outbreaks.
"We work to empower people so that they can lift themselves up," she said.