The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Mini-Grants

Exploring Social Justice with the CHANGE Initiative

I had the opportunity to attend a training program for new CHANGE Leaders that took place between July 22 and July 27 in Quincy, Massachusetts. The CHANGE Initiative is a program run by Oxfam America, an international, non-profit organization that fights to end social injustices around the world using a rights-based approach. This initiative empowers college students from all around the country to be leaders on their respective campuses and promote Oxfam's mission in a variety of ways. The 2017 cohort of CHANGE Leaders comprised of 36 students from 36 different universities in the U.S. and a variety of backgrounds and experiences. 

Ugandan Dance Troupe Tabu Flo Brings the Dartmouth Community Together

When we hatched the idea of bringing Ugandan dance troupe Tabu Flo to Dartmouth to debut a dance-theater piece weaving themes of power, representation, and voice, we did not anticipate how much their presence would impact our campus. Their twelve days here were marked by testimony after testimony—from students, faculty, community members, and many others—about their ability to inspire critical reflection on our world through the art of dance. This was encapsulated in their performance of “The Speech”, which painted an evocative picture of state-run systems that afford some people the ability to speak and withhold that opportunity from others. In the piece, Tabu Flo combined passionate expression with nuanced symbolism, using costume and choreography (without uttering a word) to highlight how different institutional actors participate in this exercise of power.

Security Vulnerabilities in Modern Voting

Thanks to the Rockefeller Center, I had the opportunity to attend the DEFCON security conference this past July. Started in 1992, DEFCON now draws roughly 20,000 attendees each year. Notable speakers this year include Gary Kasparov, Elie Bursztein, and Matt Suiche. In addition to the main stage talks, DEFCON also features smaller venues within the conference center – known as ‘villages’ – dedicated to specific topics, such as hardware, networking, social engineering, and biohacking.

The newest village at DEFCON was the Voting Machine village. The objective of the village was simple: to alert the American public about security vulnerabilities in modern voting machines. Instead of focusing on what may or may not have happened during the 2016 election, we made it our mission to understand today’s voting technology and help ensure that future elections cannot be hacked.

Research Opportunities with the International Space Station

I recently enjoyed the privilege of attending the International Space Station Research and Development Conference (ISSRDC) with support from the Rockefeller Center, and I can barely comprehend how many resources and opportunities this experience has provided me. From conversing with scientists about their bleeding-edge research to listening to CEOs and politicians share their visions for the future, the sheer amount of knowledge available at this conference was simply unbelievable. Not only do I now possess a much stronger understanding of current orbital research and technology, I am also enabled with the tools and connections to potentially bring Dartmouth research to the International Space Station.

Students' Reflections on Ivy Policy Conference

The triumph of the Ivy Conference is not the keynote speakers, not the carefully planned tracks, not even the beauty of Columbia's New York campus: it is the minute interactions between students from different colleges. For this I am intensely grateful. Few other events or organizations could make these interactions possible not just possible, but easy. It could be an intense as a heated debate about the appropriate response to administrative inaction or as sublime as a conversation struck up in an elevator that leads to a lasting friendship--these are the heart of the ivy conference and the reason I'm drawn to eat it each year. The effect of these interactions in aggregate is to get a better perspective on our common problems and to come up with common solutions.

Empowering Young Women in the Upper Valley

We learned so much through planning Sister to Sister 2017 and it was an invaluable experience for all involved. First, we learned about the various logistics involved with planning a conference of this size and magnitude. The key to the success of the conference was starting to prepare very early on by noting what was and was not successful from Sister to Sister 2016. Link Up has already began to talk about Sister to Sister 2018, which will be essential to making next year's conference even more successful than this year’s.

Further, it was so important that we were able to receive input from so many different people involved with the conference. We sent out surveys to the facilitators asking for feedback and we used the 2016 feedback to improve this year’s conference. Additionally, all of the Link Up executives edited the schedule for the conference. All of this collaboration ensured the program was reviewed from a variety of perspectives and therefore we could do our best to cover all important topics for middle school girls.

Financial Investments for Justice

Having been elected as the Chief Executive Officer of Smart Woman Securities’ Dartmouth Chapter for the academic year 2017-2018, I was given the opportunity to embark on a field trip to meet with and learn directly from Mr. Warren Buffett in Omaha, NE hosted by Smart Woman Securities National. Ever since my sophomore fall, I have been an active Research Analyst, and then Investment Board Member in Smart Woman Securities – a national organization that exclusively educates women on evaluating businesses and pitching stocks. Although I had participated in panels talks such as the “100 Women in Hedge Fund” hosted by Morgan Stanley and went on Corporate Treks to meet with asset managers like Fidelity and Eaton Vance, my excitement about this coming trip to meet Mr. Warren Buffett was unequaled.

The Next Generation of Global Health

GlobeMed’s 5th Annual Benefit Dinner was a great opportunity for me to get more involved and learn all the details that go into planning a large event. I learned a lot about collaboration, the importance of goal-setting, and the ability to see the bigger picture even when it can seem a distant and daunting task. Funding from the Rockefeller Center was absolutely critical in allowing us to put on an event that both looked and felt like it was high quality. Without funding, it would have been difficult to secure enough food for everyone, and we would not have been able to decorate the space so that it felt like a legitimate and exciting event to students who walked by -- they were intrigued and interested in learning about our organization and global health because we made it such a welcoming space.

Students Discuss Impact of Vietnam War with Professor Miller

On February 2nd, 2017, Professor Edward Miller joined the Thought Project Living Learning Community for dinner to discuss the Vietnam War. Professor Miller spoke about his recent trip to Vietnam with former Secretary of State John Kerry. A Vietnam War veteran, Kerry was decorated with a silver star for his service. In the fall of 2016, Kerry visited Vietnam, and he relied on Professor Miller to guide him through the territory with World War II-era maps. It was fascinating to hear Professor Miller discuss his interactions with John Kerry, which were never one-on-one. “The Secretary of State doesn’t go anywhere alone,” Miller explained. While in Vietnam, Kerry happened to meet one of the Viet Cong soldiers who was on the opposing side of the ambush. “The meeting,” Miller explained, “was the perfect symbol of reconciliation between the US and Vietnam.” The two governments now have now become closely aligned: the ideology of communism has died out in Vietnam completely. Vietnam sends the sixth largest proportion of all foreign university students in the United States.

Lessons for Future Advocacy

The lessons that the 2017 UN Winter Youth Assembly offered me were truly remarkable. Never before have I been in the presence of so many passionate, motivated peers from around the world who have already begun to impact tangible change in their communities.

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