January 30, 2009

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Five Bucknell University students have been selected to  join more than 1,000 students from around the globe at the second annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University to discuss solutions to pressing global issues.

The idea for the annual meeting was launched by former President Bill Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world. This year’s meeting will be hosted Feb. 13-15 at the University of Texas-Austin.

Bucknell’s representatives include Muyambi Muyambi, Class of ’11 and an engineering student from Kampala, Uganda, who last year received a $5,000 grant from the Clinton Global Initiative for his project, Bicycles Against Poverty, which he will launch this summer in Uganda with the help of Bucknell classmates.

'Missing Seeds' documentary
While attending the Clinton Global Initiative University, the Bucknell representatives plan to distribute DVDs of “Missing Seeds,” a documentary about the effects of banned pesticide on banana workers in Nicaragua that the students made with a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace program.

“Since it is going to be a meeting full of passionate students from around America and the world, we hope that whoever takes the DVD will be inspired to spread the message from ‘Missing Seeds’ or start a group on their campus to help the banana workers,” said Muyambi.

“Missing Seeds” will be shown on campus Thursday, Feb. 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bison in the Elaine Langone Center.

Banana workers
The Bucknellians first learned of the plight of the banana workers while participating in a January 2008 Bucknell Brigade trip to the Central American country. Five returned in the summer of 2008 to conduct interviews and collect oral histories for the documentary.

Alex Madsen, Class of ’08, was among the students spearheading the documentary that cited the harmful effects of a pesticide used to kill worms that ruin bananas. “As citizens of the wealthiest nation in the world, it is our responsibility to aid and raise consciousness about such issues,” said Madsen as the film project got underway.

In addition to Muyambi, Bucknell participants at the Texas meeting include Grace Han, Class of ’11, Jacquelin Kataneksza, Class of ’09, Molly Burke, Class of ’10, and Abhay Agarwal, Class of ’09.

'Commitment to Action'
The participants are making what the Clinton Global Initiative calls a “Commitment to Action,” a
concrete step that makes a difference in the areas of education, energy and climate change, global health, peace and human rights, or poverty alleviation.

The commitment being made by Kataneksza, for example, is two-fold:

First, she plans to raise funding to rejuvenate the Women’s Development Savings and Credit Union, a women’s cooperative in Zimbabwe, to provide enough sewing and peanut butter making machines for up to 50 selected rural and urban women to begin producing and making goods.

A second part of the commitment would establish a joint initiative between Bucknell and the savings and credit union and give current and past Bucknell students an opportunity to sponsor loans or buy machinery to encourage sustainable development for Zimbabwean women.

Economic insecurity
“As is often the case in times of oppression or violation, women are the worst victims,” said Kataneksza. “It is with this thought in mind that I am seeking to provide avenues of hope for displaced women who bear the double burden of invisibility and economic insecurity.” 

While at the Texas meeting, participants will hear from a variety of academic, social and political leaders, including former President Clinton, and participate in a host of work sessions with topics ranging from climate change and poverty to women’s rights and health.

In addition, Clinton Global Initiative University attendees will join with University of Texas students to take part in a wide range of community service activities.

Meeting attendance is by application, each of which is reviewed by Clinton Global Initiative University team to actively seek a range of students who have a variety of experiences, interests, talents and goals.

Contact: Division of Communications


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