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Monday, October 27, 2014

SBU Senior Participates in Youth Advocacy Training

By Lian Bunny
SBU ’17

St. Bonaventure senior biology major Alex Gu traveled to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17 to participate in the Global Campaign for Education-US Chapter’s biannual youth advocacy training.

The Global Campaign for Education-U.S. Chapter (GCE-US) is a coalition of U.S. organizations including non-profit organizations, foundations, faith-based groups, think tanks and teachers’ unions. Its goal is to “create advocacy and policy strategies to influence and educate policy makers and the US public, provide and support opportunities for youth to act on behalf of education for all and increase public support of universal quality education,” according to its website.

Twice a year the program takes 20 students to Washington to learn why 58 million children worldwide are out of school and why 250 million children worldwide are in school but not learning. Through teaching different advocacy techniques, the students are challenged to share the information learned with their communities to ensure that all children have access to a quality education.

Gu, from Flushing, N.Y., is the second student from St. Bonaventure University to be accepted to the training. Simone Bernstein, class of 2014, was the first to attend.

According to Gu, a professor he worked for in the summer of 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana, recommended that he apply for the training. He completed an application and obtained a letter of recommendation.

“I applied to the Student Advocacy Training to raise awareness and support for educational opportunities,” Gu said. “Through this training, I wanted to learn new skills and gather new experiences to continue advocating for educational programs worldwide. I am always open to new ideas and willing to listen, question, analyze and explore ways to spread the message and engage and empower youth to advocate for the importance of an education.”

Gu said the event taught him that few countries can escape poverty and achieve decent health with low literacy rates and ineffective education programs.

“Literacy forms the basis for all future learning and problem solving,” Gu said. “Improving literacy rates can and do improve the overall health of a nation with increased awareness and knowledge to prevent diseases and information on nutrition and immunizations. There are many challenges we face in the world and problems that need to be fixed on a global level: access to clean water, hunger, inequities in education and health care and to address and find work for the vast number of unemployed and underemployed people around the world.”

The four-day training taught Gu networking strategies on a national and international level, in an effort to lessen the aforementioned world problems. Gu said he learned how to better utilize discussion groups about grassroots organizing, event planning, community mapping and online organizing initiatives.

“I plan to present and share my experiences in both my hometown and college community,” Gu said. “With skills from this training, I will strengthen our on-campus MERT program and the prevention safety education program we are implementing in rural areas. In addition, I will work with other organizations on campus to help advocate for and create awareness for the importance of global education.”

Gu is chief of the St. Bonaventure Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT).

The skills Gu gained during the advocacy training will continue to assist him in his future. Gu has been selected to present at a conference convened by the United Nations, UNSECO and the Council of Europe. The conference will be the First Global Forum on Youth Policies in Baku, Azerbaijan, and will take place Oct. 28-30.

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