Thoughts Before the Beltway

The anticipation prior to leaving for the IHL Youth Leadership Summit is absolutely unbelievable. On so many levels, the opportunity to attend the Summit means a lot to the entire team. I, personally, have never been to Washington, which makes this opportunity all the more exciting. Furthermore, as one of pioneer college teams participating in the IHL Action Campaign, we, on the Bradley team are unfathomably grateful that our work has been recognized in such a prestigious manner. Most of all, we look forward to meeting with other teams who have invested the same level of work and effort for humanitarian values that we have. Through this, we hope to have a means of furthering our work, and fostering new ideas in order to educate even more members of the community next year.

As a group, any frontier by which we have the opportunity to present our work is a very exciting prospect. Our experience at presenting has extended far beyond the simulation itself. We have presented our campaign to the local Red Cross Chapter on two occasions, and both times received praise from an admiring board. Besides the adult audience of the Red Cross Chapter, team leader Casmeer and I were given the wonderful opportunity to present on child soldiers to a local middle school, thanks to the connections of Dr. Jeanie Bukowski, one of our most vocal supporters throughout the year. These middle school students were very bright and were very open to dialogue regarding an issue that most of them had never heard about before that day. Perhaps most impressively, Casmeer and Eileen, another team leader, collaborated on a research paper regarding integration programs for child soldiers, heavily focusing on gender issues. This (fantastic) research was presented at a conference at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, where Casmeer and Eileen were the only undergraduate presenters. Needless to say, the Bradley team is passionate about IHL. Having the opportunity to meet other students with similar levels of dedication is very exciting.

We each have our own specific expectations for what we will take from the Summit. Among the specific expectations, Casmeer told me, “I expect that the Summit will be full of energetic people with great ideas.  I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and just having meaningful discussions about their IHL Action Campaigns.” Casmeer, a student of International Studies and Women’s studies, had a different answer from Rachel Teague, a freshman International Business and Spanish major, who told me that she is “eager to experience the passion and commitment that other youth from across the U.S. have shown in their efforts to raise awareness for IHL.” As for myself, I especially look forward to learning how we can raise even greater awareness for IHL. The Bradley team has worked hard, and is very excited to come to Washington, D.C. to meet teams who have worked just as hard.

Joshua, Bradley University, Central Illinois Regional Chapter

For pictures of our IHL Action Campaign click here.

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