Rafiki Assumani, a sophomore majoring in computer science, is one of 50 students selected to participate in the Oxfam CHANGE Initiative, a national program created to broaden perspectives, inspire action and shape a new generation of global citizens.
Assumani, along with student activists throughout the U.S., will attend training July 23-29 in Quincy, Mass. The program combines group activities, expert panels and workshops to discuss key issues such as food security, agriculture and social justice in extractive industries (oil, mining and gas).
The training’s objective is to help students develop skills and expand their knowledge of global issues so they may return to their home campuses to work toward alleviating global hunger and poverty.
Assumani says being selected for the program is one of the greatest opportunities of his life.
He grew up in Bukavu, a rapidly growing city in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said it is a poor community plagued with social inequalities and wars. “Having myself faced some of these issues, I have decided since I was 13 to devote my life to advocating the rights of children and other vulnerable people. I therefore embarked on a journey of finding durable solutions to poverty and social inequalities around the world,” he said.
Through the program, Assumani hopes to improve his leadership and advocacy skills, as well as connect with other motivated, diverse world problem-solvers. “These connections will help me engage with other people in a new advocacy battle,” he said.
Once he returns to NDSU, he plans to create an Oxfam club. “If more students could be aware of such problems as realities and not ‘media fabricated issues,’ we might be on the right path to help the struggling communities get relief,” Assumani said.
He also is interested in raising awareness of climate change among students. “We need to tell other fellow students to care for the environment and bring hope to struggling communities around the world,” he said. “We really need to inspire them to conduct research in renewable and clean energy and spark their interest to make NDSU and their environment ‘more green.’ ”
Assumani is thankful for the chance to be a member of the Oxfam CHANGE Initiative 2011 team. “I am very grateful to my family; friends in the U.S., Europe and Africa, as well as to all the fantastic people at NDSU and in Fargo who have always helped me keep my dreams alive,” he said.
“I am thrilled that he has been selected as one of only a few students to be a part of this important program,” said Evie Myers, vice president for equity, diversity and global outreach. “Rafiki’s participation in the CHANGE initiative will not only benefit him personally, but will also benefit NDSU when he returns and applies his training to his work here.”
CHANGE Initiative is sponsored by Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.