x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai students taking part in efforts to save the world in Texas

Four American University of Dubai students are heading to Texas this week for the Clinton Global Initiative University.

DUBAI // Four local students are to attend an elite global citizenship conference in the US this week. The American University of Dubai (AUD) students will attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in Texas, aimed at encouraging young people to become involved in solving the world's problems. They will join more than 1,000 students, university presidents and NGOs from around the world at the University of Texas at Austin, for the three-day conference starting on Friday. It will be hosted by the former US president Bill Clinton. Madonna Morgan, 22, Ghazaleh Nekvi Ellis, 26, Mostafa Khojah, 25, and Erin M Remillard, 21, will represent their student-led club AUD International Aid. AUD was the only Arab world representative at last year's inaugural CGI U, a student version of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Ms Morgan, from Lebanon, said she wanted to help dispel the image of UAE students being globally unaware. "My vision is to see people here contribute and become aware, because there is this stereotype that students living in this part of the world are unaware, and are living in a bubble," Ms Morgan said. "Lots of people here want to help, but they don't know how, and don't know where to start. "I hope that through this club, more people, especially students, will feel encouraged and able to contribute as well." The students will take part in sessions to find concrete ways of addressing pressing issues, locally and internationally. Celebrity activists will also be attending, including the actor Matthew ­McConaughey, the actresses Drew Barrymore and Natalie Portman, and the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and screenwriter Morgan Spurlock, best known for his documentary, Super Size Me. The AUD students went through a rigorous selection process for the conference, which included submitting a "commitment to action". They decided to dedicate 600 hours of time and $22,000 (Dh80,800) to instructing teachers in rural Cameroon how to use computers. They will travel there in July after forming partnerships with NGOs in the African nation. Mr Khojah, a Saudi student who started his community service "career" by chairing the Red Crescent Society group at his high school in Jeddah, is excited to be contributing to development on such an international scale. Ms Nekvi Ellis, an Iranian-American graduate student, hoped her participation at CGI U would lead to work at international NGOs such as the UN, and encourage other students to follow. "The more they see what kind of things we do, and how serious and determined we are about our commitment, the more students will become interested in similar work," she said. Founded in 2005 by Mr Clinton, the CGI gathers current and former heads of state, Nobel laureates and prominent philanthropists to find solutions to the world's challenges. talramahi@thenational.ae