200 Days in the Life of the College

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding one’s ‘moment of obligation’

By Lauren Howe ’13

“We all recognize that there are injustices in this world, and that’s why we are in this room,” says Debra Richardson, a food activist and the keynote speaker invited to Hamilton’s 2010 Diversity and Social Justice Project Student-Faculty Conference.

The DSJP Conference showcases the summer work of student grant recipients. I am one of the 10 student presenters excited to hear what Richardson has to say. She speaks of a distinct “moment of obligation” when we ask ourselves, “What makes me the happiest?” My own “moment” occurred this past summer, when I interned at the Northampton Survival Center, a nonprofit emergency food pantry and referral service in Massachusetts. When it is my turn to present, I eagerly share my internship experience, detailing my commitment to issues of social justice and food accessibility. Through my internship, I’d come to realize that questioning inequities and working to change them are important to me.

Staying true to its name, this year’s DSJP conference highlights diverse work conducted all over the world. One student, motivated by the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya, spent the summer there working to promote peace. Others worked to reform America’s public education system and promoted environmentalism in Garbage City, a suburb of Cairo named with grim realism.

I feel empowered being with nine other young women who are not only committed to global issues but also are prepared to take action. It shows me that individuals can make a difference, whether in the United States or Kenya. This conference gives me hope that my generation has the resources, drive and time to turn our passions into realities.