Ted Simons: The 7th annual meeting of the Clinton global initiative university will take place this weekend at ASU. Former president Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Clinton foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton will meet with more than 1,000 student leaders from around the world in an effort to find solutions to pressing concerns of the millenial generation. Here to talk about the event is Jacqueline Smith, ASU executive director of university initiatives. Also two student participants. Kathleen Stafanik is a psychology major. And ASU public policy major Josue Macias. Welcome to the show.
Jacqueline Smith: This is a weekend to celebrate students who are committed to solving pressing challenges like you talked about. We're hoping we will create a supportive community for these students and we're welcoming them from over countries around the world.
Ted Simons: What are some of the major focuses here?
Jacqueline Smith: We're focusing on five major areas. Education, health, poverty alleviation, climate change and human rights. Students here today are just two of the that are tackling these challenges through innovative projects they developed.
Ted Simons: Are these students who have already tackled or are attempting to tackle or those who are just beginning or even curious about the process?
Jacqueline Smith: That's a great point. The students are submitting and have committed commitments to action. They are at a variety of stages. Some have begun their ventures and the new feature they are advancing may be working with a new community or new geographic area. Others are at that early stage so need support and ideas and resources about the next steps to take.
Ted Simons: There are a number of big names, leaders, recognizable folk who will be here. Basically as mentors? What's that all about?
Jacqueline Smith: Sure. We have four large plenary sessions where big names will be addressing some of the ideas that they have and helping to inspire them to maintain their commitments to action, then smaller, more intimate working sessions where students will gain insight about how to take their ideas forward.
Ted Simons: They range from John Mccain to Jimmy Kimmel and all stage in between. I know you were working with folks in Peru. What got you started and how has it turned out?
Kathleen Stafanik: Well, this project actually started as a class exercise at ASU. We were asked to help with some problems that happened with their crop production. We researched that and focused on a method called Terra Preta, an ancient method that had been lost. Anthropologists rediscovered it in the s. It has very high carbon content so there's a lot of charcoal in it. We think these ancient farmers probably really discovered this quite by accident.
Ted Simons: You're basically talking about improving modern farming by going back to an ancient technique?
Kathleen Stafanik: Yes. It's really exciting. It came from the Amazon and we're working in that region on our pilot study and hope to spread this technology around the world.
Ted Simons: Why this project? Why you?
Kathleen Stafanik: You know, none of us were soil scientists, but interestingly enough, we have had so much help from ASU professors and even professors from all over the world. ASU's global resolve has been invaluable in helping create partnerships. When you go to work in another country you have to have local partners to work with. That was really essential to our success.
Ted Simons: Sounds like quite a success. We have seen S. visual images there. Josue, let's talk about you. Seems like more activism, advocacy going on. What are you involved with?
Josue Macias: It's not necessarily advocacy. What we're focused on is using our education and applying it to advanced human rights in a very innovative way. The mission of local exchange global change is wholeheartedly with Nelson Mandela's quote, using education as the most powerful weapon that we have to change the world. So using our focus is to help the , students at Arizona State University to transform communities locally and around the world.
Ted Simons: Again, it's called local exchange, global change. Sounds like you're connecting students to refugee and immigrant concerns?
Josue Macias: Yes. It was built on the belief that if we connected educated minds with a strategic support system, empowered them through high impact transformative experience with a local host family, then and supported their commitments to help that family overcome the challenges of their development as active citizens, then we can strengthen our communities.
Ted Simons: So basically, it sounds like you're training students to recognize and in some cases advocate against injustice.
Josue Macias: Yes.
Ted Simons: Kathleen, you have a very interesting story. From what I was looking at you kind of came from a tough beginning to get where you are now. Talk about that.
Kathleen Stafanik: I did. I grew up in extreme poverty. I really understand what our farmers in rural Peru are dealing with. In rural Peru three of four people live on less than $. a day and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This technology is so effective that studies have shown that it can increase crop production by up to %. That's life changing for these people.
Ted Simons: We have got -- obviously working with people in Peru, working with ASU students to understand refugee and immigrant concerns, how do you go from -- that's a great idea, to possibly seed money to get these things really up and going?
Jacqueline Smith: Absolutely. So at Arizona State University part of why we were selected to host this prestigious event is we have a strong commitment to entrepreneur on all four of our campus. Resources where students can go for example a place called change maker central, so a student who identifies as being a change maker, they want to make an impact either locally or globally, they find out about the resources and tools that they can use. For all of the students who are coming to campus, CGI has helped with their own seed funding competition called the resolution project. This weekend actually $, in seed funding will be distributed to participants.
Ted Simons: Folks like ho Jew and Kathleen, they go to people and say, here's my idea?
Jacqueline Smith: For the resolution project in particular there's been students selected to pitch. So on Saturday there will be a period where students will be delivering short elevator pitches and a panel of judges will decide who gets to take home some of the seed funding.
Ted Simons: This commitment to action, turning ideas into action. Were there challenges along the way?
Josue Macias: Most definitely. I think the key insight that we have gotten as a student group is learning the gift of collaboration. Harnessing that gift. Building collaborative relationships not just with other student leaders but also with community partners, which are helping us develop our models.
Ted Simons: Sounds very busy for all of you this weekend. Congratulations. Continued success. We'll look forward to hearing what comes out of this initiative.
All: Thank you.