Big Questions, Bright Future

By: Ellie
Ellie participated in Allowance for Good's spring 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers program. 

My favorite part of the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program was without a doubt what we learned on the last day of class. We read online about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The goals were implemented at the turn of the millennium, with an end date of 2015. They were very ambitious; they included everything from eradicating extreme poverty (sadly, this probably won’t happen in the next year) to improving maternal health (the goal didn’t specify by how much, so this was almost a foregone conclusion).  They have also come up with some new ideas for their next set of goals. The plans aren’t set in stone, but they involve energy sustainability, food and water, a growing economy, good governance, and conflict resolution. Overall, the UN still has a long way to go. They have taken some important steps, however, which is a big deal.

193 nations (most of the world’s population) working together to solve all their problems and improve our futures? It may seem a bit unattainable, but the idealist part of me is really excited about all this. This sort of global problem-solving interests me. These issues are a lot more complicated than they may sound; solving them will rely on the cooperation of far more people than have ever cooperated before.  I will follow this progression closely.

For me, I know, I will probably be a scientist—and there is so much that science can do! There is water to be purified, disease to be combatted, and systems of agriculture could always use improvement. Every new piece of knowledge, even something as unrelated as space or esoteric as string theory, could help others.

In the short term, of course, I still have a lot to contribute. ETHS has a wonderful community service system—as do lots of other schools, I’m sure. And I’ve been dying to study abroad ever since I started high school, so maybe I could combine that with philanthropy. Many colleges have programs where you can travel to another country to help out with community projects (e.g. building a school in Guatemala). Even tiny actions, like recommending Half the Sky, can’t hurt. Seriously, watch that movie.

I would like to learn more about how all this selfless philanthropy is changing the world. Individual and group efforts are themselves inspiring, but that’s their ultimate goal: global change. The UN has achieved overwhelming success (by any reasonable definition). Two billion people gained access to clean water—see How does that affect everyone? What effects do these organizations have even beyond the intended ones? How will the world evolve in the rest of the century?

"I am a catalyst for good because good is waiting to happen." -- Ellie, 9th grade, ETHS