James Brennan ’21, Donovan Martin ’22, and Myles Cesario ’21
On March 13, 20, and 27 of this year, the three of us participated in the 2021 Jesuit Global Activism Leadership Summit, which was hosted by a group of Jesuit schools across the world. This event consisted of three Saturday mornings spent with students from Canada, the United States, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Egypt, Russia, and India.
Our goal was to discuss and create projects concerning three of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): zero hunger, gender equality, and affordable and clean energy. All the students were divided into six-person groups; the three of us were split up but we all worked on zero hunger.
The first week, we heard from a variety of speakers who offered their insights on global issues and activism. We met our group members and shared some fun info about where we live. The next week, we began work on our projects, and on the third week, we presented the projects. Many thanks to all those who organized this great experience.
In discussing the root causes and symptoms of hunger, it was interesting to note not only the differences between our countries, but the similar underlying factors across borders. In Colombia, many of the hungry are Venezuelan refugees who experience hatred from the native Colombians for ‘stealing’ their resources.
In Chile, unhealthy eating habits lead to high obesity rates. The same is true in Poland and Ireland. In Zimbabwe, climate change has made growing food difficult, especially as corrupt politicians preferred importing instead of supporting local farmers. But the greatest factor by far is poverty. Realizing these shared problems made me realize how interconnected we all really are.
From countries all over the world and every habitable continent, the issue of hunger remains prevalent. With my SDG group, Jesuit school students came together to analyze one of the root causes of hunger: food waste.
Millions of kilograms of food spoil to a lack of proper refrigeration and storage in Kenya and Egypt. Food fails to reach grocery stores—and subsequently homes—in Colombia and Argentina. And so much food is thrown away, despite still being edible, due to confusion between “best before” and “expiration” dates, or that it simply looks unconventional. This was the case in Italy, the United States, and Canada.
Foods marked with a “best before” date can be eaten after that date; it might not taste as good, but it remains entirely edible. The ability to not only discuss these issues with a variety of perspectives but attempt to solve them was a formidable and unforgettable experience.
This map features all the participating schools:
It was interesting to see Jesuit schools come together in realizing that the problems that concern us are not defined by borders or even defined as West vs. East. But every issue, but more specifically hunger, affects every nation, on every continent.
When people suffer from hunger, whether that is malnutrition or starvation, it affects a country’s ability to be competitive and hinders that country’s ability to achieve the other SDGs. Overall, this conference was a great experience as it opened my mind to the more complex realities that face our world.
Thanks to Mr. Dainard ’88 for being a part of the organizing team. This conference will be happening again next year, hopefully in person in St. Louis, Missouri. If you’d like to participate, keep it in mind and keep your ears open!
Photo Credit: @sluhglobaled on Twitter (Dustin Liu), Robert Chura (Called to the Frontiers)