The PLEN Global Policy Seminar was the perfect way to culminate my undergraduate college experience. All the sessions were always interesting, and I learned something from each one. When I look back, however, one message that stayed with me from the seminar was to look at who is not in the room. In some powerful places, such as Capitol Hill, as well as in many organizations, including small ones, and conferences, rooms are smaller and less diverse, which can lead to poorer decisions, regardless of how well-intentioned the people in the room are. As someone who is interested in having a social impact through my work as well as an action-oriented leader, this is a key message to carry every day. A diverse room can be challenging, especially when you are surrounded by people whose views do not align with those of the others. Nonetheless, leaving out underrepresented communities will create a limited point of view, as well as the realities of human experience in a conversation that will influence serious issues like policy decisions. Therefore, I will take this message into consideration as I proceed with my career as a Global Health Practitioner. I will always look around in my meeting room to see who the meeting is not there and how it might differ if they were there.
I was also struck by a quote from the War to Peacebuilding panel discussion. The quote "If you don't have a seat at the table, you're on the menu" is very powerful. As an action-oriented leader, I understand that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It is important that we know our rights and that we are all obligated to lead to end violence and conflict. Good people can make a difference by acting. But by not acting, we become part of the problem.
The seminar also provided insight into advocacy. While many of us considered ourselves advocates, we lacked a deeper understanding of advocacy. A lesson PLEN taught me about advocacy was to know what you want to achieve through advocacy. When considering intersectionality, such as who is involved and impacted by policy, one can form a policy that is win-win for different groups.
Overall, it was a really uplifting experience. Learning about careers on Capitol Hill and Foreign Service, public diplomacy, networking 101, how faith is leading such an amazing work, simulation, launching careers in Global Policy and all the other sessions I did not include were incredibly informative and empowering. While I enjoyed learning about everything, some sessions made me aware of what is my position in this country. At the same time, they inspire me to see how far I might be able to go considering all the difficulties I will face as a migrant.
During the fall semester of my sophomore year in 2019, I attended my first PLEN seminar titled "Women in Law, Policy, and Advocacy." At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do. However, I excelled substantially in my leadership and academic advancement after attending the PLEN seminar. Because of this, I wanted to attend one more PLEN seminar before graduating, and I am so grateful to PLEN for providing me with this opportunity. It truly has transformed my life. My goal has always been to have an impact by action-oriented leadership, and this seminar and the PLEN organization itself has inspired me so much, as PLEN is opening the platform for international students like me. As I continue my life, I will practice the principle of paying it forward through action-oriented advocacy because of the support I received from PLEN. Thank you!
Anita Tamang is a recent graduate of Luther College who studied Global Health. Anita attended PLEN’s Global Policy Seminar in May 2022.