By NICOLE DIRENZO
The sixth annual Millennium Campus Conference gathered together student leaders from around the globe, where they discussed several key issues in global development, including the debate for Global vs. Local service.
The debate forced attendees to ask themselves a number of questions, including why should they work abroad when they have problems they must face in their respective home countries? Or instead, why should they work domestically when poverty is far worse on an absolute scale elsewhere?
The debate panel included four knowledgeable professionals working in global development with experience in volunteer work.
On the global side was Christie George, Director of Student Affairs at the Global Brigades Association, and Elliot Rosenberg, founder of Favela Experience.
On the local side was Ariella Camera, Presidential Management Fellow of Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, and Glen Heil, Public Relations Director of International Youth Fellowship USA.
Lynn Academic Web Coordinator and professor, Timea Varga, held the position of moderator.
The debate was an overview for many topics and issues found both globally and locally. This included ideas such as the responsibility required while serving abroad, feeling obligated to serve, and the difference between poverty in the United States and other countries.
“Yes, there are problems in our own back yards,” said Rosenberg. “But if we have the chance to go abroad, speaking on behalf of someone from a developed country to developing countries, you’ll see just the severity of problems are far greater than what we have in our own back yards.”
The global side argued that volunteering abroad creates a bigger impact because the unique experience and insight obtained by traveling to a foreign country creates meaningful improvements for those who need them most, all the while expanding the world for each volunteer.
On the other hand, the local side argued that volunteering with those in one’s community is a civic responsibility that must be completed before one can travel abroad.
“Working locally we are able to create and sustain projects that will produce hard and effective results,” states the Millennium Campus Conference’s website for local volunteer advocates. “[It maintains] accountability from both those who are helping and those being helped, and gives young people a taste of what it means to serve others from a younger age than would be possible when trying to work overseas.”
Another topic discussed was the idea of “too much” global intervention; how does one know what the right course of action is for any individual? One must tread very carefully when volunteering globally because it may be intrusive to the natives; however, the long-term goal must be kept in mind.
“I think that especially in the global field of overseas projects or volunteerism, you’re walking a very, very fine line and it’s a very fragile thing to handle,” said Heil.
University of Miami International Studies student Te’Quan Taylor was a guest at the Conference, and attended the debate.
“It really opened up my eyes,” said Taylor. “I went in believing in the global side, but the debate changed me to look at both local and global.”
The debate gave many emerging leaders in global development crucial understanding on how to approach a volunteering situation, whether in their home country or abroad.
“I believe it was a very good debate,” said Varga. “Students can gain insightful information for what they would like to do globally or locally.”
It would seem that regardless of their take on where one should dedicate their time volunteering, each panelist would agree that any type of service is commendable. Any type of work would make a difference, and the location solely depends on one’s personal opinion and comfort.