CGI U 2017 – A Youth Movement of Change

By Xueying “Shelley” Chen

In November 2017, I had the opportunity to join 1,000+ change-makers at Northeastern University for the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U). CGI U brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges in five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health. Each year the meeting brings together students who are devoted to their “commitment to action,” defined as new, specific, and measurable initiatives that address pressing challenges on campus, in local communities, or around the world.

My commitment to action is to provide sustainable eye care to the Tibetan refugees who currently live in Northern India. My team competed in the 2017 Tibetan Innovation Challenge and we were one of the global finalists in the competition. We created a business plan to host a writing competition among all the Tibetan refugee high schools; for our plan, the Tibetan high schoolers  submit children’s stories to the competition and we select the best ones and publish them on Amazon. The revenue generated from the book sales is then used to provide modified sunglasses to prevent an eye disease called “black eye” that is prevalent among Tibetan refugee children in Ladakh.

Xueying “Shelley” Chen ’19 with mentor Jean Laurent (founder of Unspoken Smile Foundation) at CGI U 2017.

Before I went to Boston, I started chatting with CGI U attendees on Facebook. Some of them are in the early stage of initiating their social venture. Some of them already have a successful operating non-profit or social enterprise. I was also assigned a mentor, who is the founder of Unspoken Smiles Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides dental critical dental health issues in developing countries.

The first day at CGI U, I attended two keynote speaker panel sessions and two small-group discussions. The keynote speakers were former President Bill Clinton, Ibtihaj Muhammad (Olympic medalist, activist, and entrepreneur), David Miliband (President and CEO of International Rescue Committee), and Anndrea Moore (Founder and CEOBlack Tech Women). The topics covered were climate change, immigration policy, human rights and the opium crisis. At the end of day, there was a networking event where student displayed their projects through oral or poster presentations. The second day, I was assigned to a community service site to paint murals for a family center. From the community service project, I had a better understanding of the communal engagement in Boston. Through CGI U, I had a fruitful experience exchanging ideas with like-minded student entrepreneurs, with whom I am still in touch.

CGI U was a confirmation to the world that young people are striving to make a positive change through their commitment to action. It is a global community that came together to improve 180 million lives in 180 countries. I am grateful for my CGI U experience because it opened my eyes to resources that are out there to help students start their social entrepreneurship projects. I was able to connect with like-minded student entrepreneurs from all over the globe. Now, it’s your time to join this movement of change!

Xueying “Shelley” Chen is a junior double-majoring in International Relations and Business at the University of Rochester. She is an aspiring social entrepreneur and an social innovator; Chen is always looking for ways to create a positive impact in her community and around the globe. She is an avid advocate for human rights and gender equality. In the past, she led a team to compete in Tibetan Innovation Challenge and was one of the global finalists. This spring, Chen is competing in the Hult Prize Competition, the world’s largest social entrepreneurship contest, with a team of global citizens hoping to commercialize nano-membrane toilets. She believes there is a way to bridge the gap between the public sector and private sector, and ultimately wants to empower youth to make a positive difference in the world.