Students speak out
By Reshma Gouravajhala, Managing Editor
A Greening ’Stoga Task Force member sifts through recycling bins on a Thursday afternoon, thrilled that so many students are going green. Thousands of miles away, a Colombian man chops through the depleting forest, not knowing—or caring—what the phrase “global warming” means, simply wanting to put food on his family’s table.
Unlike the GSTF member who has the luxury of time, this man, like billions of other poverty-stricken people, faces problems every day of his life in an attempt to avoid the far-reaching clutches of disease and death.
In a noble effort to help these individuals, the United Nations has created the Millennium Development Goals, eight broad guidelines that tackle issues like extreme poverty, malnutrition and child mortality. With a deadline of 2015, these goals are expected to make significant progress regarding issues that have always plagued the poorest of the poor.
While these problems are being tackled in the developing world, we in the developed world look on and applaud the efforts of the United Nations. But what about the problems we face ourselves?
As members of a privileged community we have elevated standards of living, but are nevertheless affected by issues that transcend wealth and global position. Pressing problems like climate change and the rise of health-related deaths are far from being solely concentrated in the developing world. Though we face different issues than the poor, we must still tackle them by creating an overarching framework that is similar to the Millenium Development Goals.
In the past, many of us have stood in the background, watching others as they struggled to effect change. It is now time to stand at the forefront of our own battles, which we can do by using the Millennium Development Goals as a template to solve some of the issues that plague our own lives.
Starting with the most obvious example of climate change, we can easily see that it is a prevailing problem here. According to the UN, the 300 million people United States emit about seven times more CO2 than the 1.3 billion people in China. To alleviate the negative effects of climate change, ’Stoga students have started going green at school, as evidenced by the increased number of recycle bins and the almost-ubiquitous presence of reusable water bottles.
But this is only the first step. To create even more of a significant change, we have to extend this practice to our houses. After all, if we don’t bother to recycle at home, how can we expect the rest of the community to follow our example?
But climate change is only one problem that affects the richer parts of the world. Developed countries face issues like gender equality in the workplace and a rise in diseases like diabetes. By creating a set of overarching goals that explicitly state our aims for the future with regard to issues such as the environment and declining health, we will raise more awareness and thereby effect more change.
As a school, we have proven that, given a goal, we can come together to help others. For example, during last year’s Help for Haiti campaign, students raised thousands of dollars. However, we must exert the same effort with other local projects.
The ongoing Stogabundance project, The Great Food Fight, is attempting to relieve the effects of povety in nearby areas, but it is not being given the attention that it deserves. However, if we create a school-related list, we can then check each item (whether they’re food donations, book drives or car washes for lesser privileged members of the community) as we accomplish each goal.
We might have once been able to confront these problems on an individual scale but we can no longer afford to choose that option. Each and every issue can be fixed only if we work together on setting goals and then collectively achieving them.
We still have an obligation to work together as a community in order to create a better future for everyone, regardless of where in the world we live. All the problems that affect us can be fixed if we start a chain reaction of awareness; all it takes is for one person to be that first falling domino.
Reshma Gouravajhala can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on p. 8 of the Oct. 19, 2010 issue of The Spoke.