Delegate Spotlight | Humanity in Morocco: Lauren's Journey and What Came After
by Zachary Thomas
“Establishing that human connection between cultures and developing a sense of understanding, learning, and respect is the first step in successful and mindful global development.” Lauren Monahan, a delegate from a small town in Massachusetts who had a big awakening, embraces the human element in global development and tries to always maintain humanity in all she does.
Lauren grew up in suburban Massachusetts, specifically in a small town that showed her a world filled with wood siding and a small but tight-knit community and for the most part, that was all she knew. She also never left the country, at least, not until her junior year of college when she studied in Morocco. “It opened my eyes to a different system of government and the impact that political systems have on the culture and lifestyle of a developing state. I gained a different perspective on gender equality, poverty, and environmental challenges.” For Lauren, a culture that was so different from hers brought her closer not only to these drastically different people but also closer to what she felt was her humanity. “Language is something that can build cultural barriers and inhibit understanding, but just as easily it can tear these walls down. I learned this while in Morocco, as cultural commonalities were discovered through every conversation….Despite the relative lack of financial and material resources in the village, their generosity and hospitality was astounding; sharing smiles, stories, delicious food, and their homes. The personal connection gained over a shared cup of tea, a meal, or simply immersing yourself in another's lifestyle is permanent. This experience has helped me to develop a human-centric approach to global development. Establishing that human connection between cultures and developing a sense of understanding, learning, and respect is the first step in successful and mindful global development.”
Returning from Morocco, Lauren had the opportunity to co-found a chapter for Nourish International on her campus at Boston College, and, bearing in mind the lessons she learned from her time in Morocco, has established an incredibly successful campaign. “Our mission is to engage students and empower communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty. We form lasting international partnerships with community-based organizations in order to implement a self-identified sustainable project. This past year we generated income through social entrepreneurship and prepared our students to take part in a project with our Bolivian partner organization, CECAM. Currently we have four students in Cochabamaba, Bolivia working collaboratively with CECAM to develop bicimaquinas, or bicycle-powered machines. These will be used in schools and in the private sector to produce goods for sale in an environmentally friendly way. Through these experiences we hope to develop students' leadership abilities, cultural understanding, and nurture their aspirations as agents of social change.”
In addition to co-founding this chapter, Lauren was a recipient of the Millennium Fellows, where she was immersed in an 8 month program, learning how to effectively manage her chapter and be a student leader. The potential experience of leading was daunting to Lauren but this program gave her the confidence and experience that she needed. “Through bi-weekly sessions and one-on-one meetings I gained the tools necessary to lead in an effective and meaningful way. I was also guided through the systematization of our organization in its first year of existence. MCN uses key performance indicators to measure the organizational efficiency in terms of resources, partnerships, leadership transition and operations.” Lauren was really able to fortify her organization’s impact and was able to gain key funding for her organization. Yet Lauren saw the Millennium Fellowship as something far more than an instructional, how-to-make-a-non-profit workshop. “the Fellowship, most importantly, acted as a support system and an incubator for personal growth. The leaders and other fellows challenged common tenets of global development, allowing me to form new judgments and ideas about how global development can improve. Furthermore, I discovered how I can be a part of this important process, maintaining constant focus on the human element.”
Lauren is very excited about this year’s 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. As a team leader, she will be leading the discussion team sessions and helping other delegates find a home to discuss their passions. “I am passionate about the educational and economic empowerment of women and children in the Middle East and North Africa. I am looking forward to learning from my peers at MCC and beyond, as I try to determine the most effective and appropriate way to address these issues. I am excited to hear about others' stories and create meaningful relationships with such a passionate group of people.”
Lauren is just one of the many amazing delegates already registered for the 7th annual Millennium Campus Conference at the United Nations from August 11-15th where she, along with others from around the world, will come together to think, connect, and act to challenge the paradigms that perpetuate inequality and to redefine the world around us. Apply at mcc15.org/delegateapplication to join the movement and promote social change!