They said it was impossible–that such a feat could not be accomplished for a generation so young. Surely, there must have been some other way. But, alas, as the sun rose over the District one April morning, platoons of young men and women alike set off on a most grueling expedition: Seven blocks. Eight in the morning. On a Saturday. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
Americans for Informed Democracy held its 2012: Challenge Accepted conference almost two weekends ago, and in case you missed it: we’re sorry for your loss. The event lasted two days and was held at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs; if the walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro to the Elliott School hadn’t already woken attendees by the time they arrived each morning, then the coffee and bagels from Panera and our super excited staff certainly did the job. Although lasting two days, the profusion of fantastic speakers and panelists could have provided everyone with powerful, interesting, and engaging discussions for weeks.
We had powerful conversations with luminaries ranging from Michele Flournoy, Special Advisor to President Obama’s Re-election Campaign, who discussed the future of US global engagement including our relationship with the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, to Daniel Maree, Organizer of the Million Hoodie March, who advised students to “be bold; be fair; and most of all, be informed” when organizing for a cause.
One of the most engaging sessions was entitled From Me to We: Harnessing the Power of the Millenial Generation, and was actually extended for some time to allow panelists and attendees to discuss the ways through which our generation can utilize current technologies to battle present/future global challenges. At one point in the conference, Maggie Smith herself (donned in Downton Abbey threads) made a surprise appearance to hold a special panel on Peace of Cake: The Future of the Allied Powers. That didn’t actually happen, but it’s one of the few things that could have made the conference better.
All humor aside, had a great turnout for 2012: Challenge Accepted, and attendees and speakers alike have expressed to us their enthusiasm for the great ideas they heard at the conference or have since formulated on their own.
One of our goals for this conference was to motivate participants to start their own movements or initiate their own projects to ensure that foreign policy and global engagement don’t get lost in the 2012 Presidential elections. Participants note having “already taken away a lot of ideas for how to better organize [his/her] efforts in advocating for change” as well as “influencing [him/her] to want to take action.”
They were also enthusiastic about having gained so much from the over 30 (!) workshops and breakout sessions, which not only “exposed [them] to a wide range of ideas and opinions” regarding current foreign policy issues, but also gave them the tools and skills to make a difference in this Presidential election and beyond.
From learning how to make and launch effective videos and podcasts (courtesy, The Stanley Foundation) to knowing how to write about politics (courtesy, PolicyMic), attendees were provided with an endless number of resources. Indeed, one of the ‘least-liked’ aspects about the event was how “multiple panels or workshops were [held] at the same time” and prevented the student(s) to be at two concurrent sessions, at once. That’s something to take note for future events, as we’ve always been an advocate for human omnipresence rights, here, at AIDemocracy (we are a truly global network indeed).
Overall, 2012: Challenge Accepted enabled participants to learn further not only about foreign policy issues, but also how to channel their energies to affect change on those issues. If you want to know more about what you can do, join our network and get in touch!