Students Lead Conference to Combat Poverty
By UPMA KAPOOR
After launching successful development-oriented projects such as the Two-Dollar Challenge and La Ceiba, the University of Mary Washington will be hosting the Poverty Action Conference next weekend, on Oct. 5 and 6 on campus.
The Poverty Action Conference is an unconventional conference experience where the students are both the main organizers and targeted audience.
One conference organizer, senior Laura Dick, anthropology and economic major, said, “student development projects have a lot of heart, but don’t go about it the best way.”
The conference provides students with a platform to engage in a productive dialogue with professionals and experts in development and microfinance.
Featured at the event will be keynote speaker Jonathan Lewis, founder and host of iOnPoverty, a website which produces online videos about economic injustice and opportunity, and a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley.
Saundra Schimmelpfennig, expert in the nonprofit world and blogger for her website, “Good Intentions are Not Enough,” will also be speaking at the event.
Dean Karlan, founder and president of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and professor of economics at Yale University, will also be a featured speaker at the event.
Poverty Action Conference will not revolve around its keynotes, but rather the presentations delivered by students. According to senior Nicole Cochran, economics major, there will be 15 student presenters from colleges across the country discussing issues that include social justice, entrepreneurship and global development.
Several UMW alumni will be present as well, most notably Santiago Suerio, a graduate who will be leading the session on La Ceiba.
Dick states that the professionals attending want to listen to the students and help individuals improve their projects and ideas.
The ultimate purpose of the conference, according to Dick, is to create a more communal atmosphere for students’ interest in development in order to work toward a greater impact.
The conference nurtures an interdisciplinary, dynamic environment that eases into multiple networking opportunities among peers and professionals.
Apart from networking and panels, the conference is hosting a free documentary screening of “Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar,” Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the Great Hall. Following the screening, there will be a question and answer session with filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci.
The conference is open to the student body, and attendees are encouraged to register on the Poverty Action Conference website, povertyactionconference.org, by midnight this Friday, Sept. 28. There is a $2 registration fee for UMW students and $15 for non-UMW attendees.