Last week I spent the entire week at Fairfield University at the Jesuit University Humanitarian Action Network Conference. JUHAN is a program that was started by Georgetown University and Fordham University in an effort to prepare graduates to work in the humanitarian field. There were a few really interesting presentations.
A group of students from Fairfield University presented on their campaign to bring Alta Gracia products to their campus. Alta Gracia is a company that produces university branded clothing, but also pays their worker a living wage (a wage that is usually above minimum wage and includes enough for food, housing, a basic education, and having weekends). Georgetown already only sells Alta Gracia clothing on their campus and I’m interested in trying to get some at Holy Cross, hearing how these school accomplished that was really helpful!
Another group of students from Loyola Chicago had an “Uncap Campaign” that banned the sale of plastic bottled water on their campus and replaced it with water fountains for students to use reusable water bottles. These are two campaigns that I would be really interested in seeing occur at HC. Being able to stay in contact with students who successfully ran them will be very useful to myself or whoever else ends up running the campaign.
A representative from Catholic Relief Services had a fantastic presentation, which focused on the importance of advocating for policy change in an effort to prevent humanitarian crises. I think policy advocacy is definitely where I would like to end up working in the future, I like the idea of being able to prevent a drought, medical crisis or famine rather than trying to fix the problem after it’s occurred.
One thing I would have liked to see more of at the conference was specific career paths and opportunities (but I think I may be thinking like that just because I’ll be a senior!) I would have been great to have networking dinners or a humanitarian job fair. I hope they choose to include that in two years!
Overall the conference was very inspirational, I especially liked meeting all the students from international Jesuit Universities. We had students from Qatar, Mexico, Nicaragua, Australia, India and the Philippines. It was really interesting to see how they were working to make a real difference in their communities or even on an international level. I would definitely recommend this conference to everyone next time they have it!
Early this year, in January I also went to Holy Cross’s humanitarian conference, the Community and Public Leadership Workshop. This conference was also great for anyone interested in non-profit or public sector work. I keep suggesting it to everyone I know!
Vivian Daly '13