After three days of icebreakers, presentations, and guest speakers, the IHL Youth Leadership Summit is finally coming to a close. Needless to say, the opportunity to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for a few days was an excellent experience. None of us from Bradley University knew exactly what to expect, but based on what we hoped, the Summit went above and beyond. The opportunity to see all of the other teams present their campaigns demonstrated what this fantastic generation of thinkers and problem-solvers were already hard at work on in high school. Coming from an area like Central Illinois, global awareness and activism is not as much of a priority as it could be. Leaving that area and seeing what other IHL teams were up to gave me the opportunity to see that across the country, students are passionate, active, and willing to work hard for humanitarianism and global awareness.
Bradley University was one of the IHL Action Campaign teams to conduct a campaign on a college campus. Following our presentation, students from high school teams gave so much praise and support, that I can only say that I am humbled to have been a part of the IHL program, and inspired by high school students who see such a great value in IHL. There was not a single campaign that did not vastly exceed my expectations in one way or another. The Action Campaigns were so diverse, only adding to the already exceptional experience of uniting youth under a mutual passion for humanitarianism. Being a college team only made the Summit more exciting. Preparing to enter my second year at Bradley, I vividly remember what senior year of high school was like: college applications, college applications, AP classes, making difficult decisions about the direction of life, college applications… and that was just the first semester! To see students who are so passionate about IHL that they can rise above the stress factors to organize a campaign of the caliber I have seen here is truly astounding. The IHL team at NHQ has truly organized an amazing event that fosters healthy competition in order to bring out the amazing things that millennial activists can do for humanitarianism.
On Saturday, guest speakers on the topics of gender and refugees arrived to help inspire students for next year. From thought provoking questions on gender, to the wonderful Deng Abiel discussing his life as a resettled refugee in the United States, to the panel on refugee organizations, the guest speakers reminded us all why we are here. We are active in IHL for our communities, the communities far away from us, and most importantly, humanity. Humanity is a very abstract word, and yet, this is such a great medium to be able to remind us and others that in spite of our differences, we are all human, and deserve identity, dignity, and security.
-Joshua, Bradley University