It’s an old “curse” you’ve probably heard a million times -- may you live in interesting times. This certainly rings true in 2017; these are most definitely interesting times. We live in a world where people are increasing looking inward, but a world that is, in reality, more connected than ever before. People across the globe are more focused on issues internal to themselves and their country than their relationships with other countries and solving global problems. So many feel that they are not getting their fair share, and in operating from that mindset, it is hard to think of others. It all seems to be a zero-sum game.
And this is exactly why I believe the World Affairs Challenge is so important, indeed critical, to the future of our world. I know it may sound trite, but by our children we shall be lead.
As the incoming Chairman for the Center for Teaching International Relations, the organization that sponsors the World Affairs Challenge, I believe we are at our heart teaching a new generation of students that we are one world, all interconnected, and all in this together. The young men and women who participate in our Challenge are truly awe-inspiring. This year, the theme of our Challenges is ‘Smart Planet’ and we are asking our teams to focus on the 16 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They will need to look at these goals and how they might be applied, either here at home or across the globe.
If you are feeling despair at the world’s current political environment, I invite you to do what I did a year ago and come be a judge, a mentor, or a resource for these amazing students. I think your spirit will be lifted by seeing just how these young people learn to look outward, bridge gaps, and make connections that will propel them to do great things. Above all, watch them learn that they can make a difference in the world and despite (or maybe because!) of their age, they can, indeed, act to make the world better.
Because in the end, isn’t that the calling for all of us?