An impassioned movement to end poverty rocked the stage in Central Park as more than 60,000 fans gathered Saturday, September 24th for the fifth-annual Global Citizen Festival. The festival is organized by the Global Poverty Project, an international education and advocacy organization on a mission to end extreme poverty by 2030. With a lineup bigger than ever in efforts to give back bigger than before, this event was not one to miss.
The hype is not all about the music however, it is about the organizations that the artists are advocating for and the charitable efforts of global citizens, like you and me. I had the pleasure to interview Net Impact member, Rayne Smith about her experience as a global citizen at this year’s festival.
What might a global citizen be you might ask?
“I think a global citizen is someone who is actively engaged in not only their community, but the international community, as well. Someone who cares about their brothers and sisters on the other side of the world and is willing to fight for them and their basic human rights.” –Smith
A Global Citizen is a community of people who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you. Do you believe that we can end extreme poverty?
“Yeah, I think it’s a great start. If governments and NGO’s aren’t going to address these problems on their own, this festival proves that the people will. It’s empowering to be a part of a movement where we’re actually addressing these global issues. I know the petitions and activism involved in reaching these goals has real impacts and real results. They announced that more than 7 million actions were taken this year to reach those goals which will result in an effect on more than 7 million people. These actions get into lobbying rooms and have government officials addressing and committing entire countries to allocate funds and resources towards these goals, some of them passing new laws. These effects are widespread and are stepping stones to fighting our world’s toughest challenges.”
Global citizen’s movement aims to end extreme poverty through the actions they take. Some of the main focuses include girls and women, health and education, finance and innovation, food and hunger, water and sanitation, environment, and citizenship. Each artist at the Global Citizen Festival performed, advocating for a specific organization or charity specific to one of the focuses previously stated that is personal to them. Besides the obvious enjoyment of seeing our favorite performers, what could we gain from attending the Global Citizen Festival?
“I learned more about the UN sustainability goals and it really just put a face and story behind a lot of the global issues. Like for the refugee crisis, they had Yusra Mardini there, the Syrian Olympic refugee who swam for three hours and pushed her sinking boat full of people to safety and the 6-year-old boy, Alex, who wrote to Obama telling him he will welcome a refugee into his family and home. There were a lot more faces associated with topics other than the refugee crisis, but just in general, I think it brought our partially-desensitized outlook on these crises back to earth and showed how lucky we are and how we can really help and do something about it.”
But wait. It gets better. The Global Citizen Festival is probably the most unique music festival ever. Attendees earn tickets, by taking actions to help solve the world’s biggest problems on site and via mobile app. How did Rayne gain her ticket?
“My best friend actually lives and goes to school in Manhattan. She went last year and told me to come with her this year. I did a lot of communication with global leaders like calling politicians, watched interesting videos and took “quizzes,” I wrote and sent a long email about water quality, and signed petitions.”
So my question for you is, in what ways could we, the Penn State community, follow in the Global Citizen’s footsteps to make an impact on global issues?
“Talk about the issues. We can’t keep repressing our own issues, we aren’t perfect. Whether it’s with sports or concerts, Penn State does a great job in distracting us from the issues going on inside and outside of our campus. We have a sexual assault issue that isn’t getting better (based on the number of report notifications we get weekly) and the list could go on. I’m sure each individual here has something in mind that Penn State could be addressing better, whether it be Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ acceptance. Empower young people to make a difference on a global scale. Encourage teachers to enforce their students to read the daily news. This gets people outside of their bubbles and realize the world around them. Create a campus-wide environment much like SOC119 and COMM110 where people are open and comfortable to discuss “taboo” topics. Students have ideas, they shouldn’t be held within our lecture halls. Create an open area where these discussions are welcome and can be heard by anyone.”
If you care about global issues such as extreme poverty, equal rights, sustainability, and ethics- find ways to get involved. The Penn State community is just the stepping stone to broader platforms. Find your opportunity, your passion. Make an impact.
Get involved like Rayne and make a difference.