The Clinton Global Initiative Conference (CGI) 2014 was established by the former President of the US, Bill Clinton in 2005. It convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. This year, an Indian student was also a part of this conference. Vasudha Jindal, a BA (Hons) Interior Design and Architecture Student from Pearl Academy of Fashion, Chennai, addressed the issue of climate change and environmental threats by presenting her project, which was on the use of furoshiki (a type of traditional Japanese cloth used to transport goods) cloth bags as an alternative to polythene.
“I was already working on a project on environmental challenges for about a year and was looking for a platform to showcase it on a larger scale. When my faculty advised me to participate in CGI, I realised that this was the perfect opportunity to discuss my project with a larger audience who would be able to guide me on how to take it forward,” says this youngster.
Currently pursuing second-level of her BA (Hons), Vasudha says she has always been involved in issues concerning the environment. “My parents, who are social workers, have had a huge role to play in my project. I was taught very early in my life to be aware of all the issues around me and try to contribute towards the betterment of the society wherever possible. I even did a one-year fellowship with Nokia and Oxfam, which focused on sustainable development,” she says.
About her stint at the conference, Vasudha has lots to say. From motivational talks to life-changing ideas, she seems to have experienced it all. With over 1,000 students from more than 300 universities of 75 countries, CGI has given her an opportunity of a lifetime. “Being a part of CGI, I had the chance to meet so many diverse people from different cultures and countries. With speakers such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, John McCain, Gabriella Gifford, Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), and even Jimmy Kimmel (American comedian), we heard a wide range of views and gained valuable tips and advice from current change-makers. One of the most motivating sessions for me, was the one by Bunker Roy, an Indian social activist and educator who founded the Barefoot College and was also named among Time’s 100 most influential people for his work in 2010. He talked about how the education system can provide young people with the right tools to succeed and develop high-demand skills for employment,” she shares.
This has also boosted her confidence, feels Vasudha. Sessions on ‘Raising Money for Your Commitment’, ‘Building Your Team: Strengthening Organisational Leadership and Capacity’ and ‘Transforming Waste: A New Generation of Ecological Design’, have given her a new perspective and has taught her how to most effectively implement her ideas.
Says Vasudha, “In fact, after presenting my project, ‘The blueprints’, which aims at providing a better alternative to polythene, I was offered an opportunity to collaborate with others in their initiatives as well. Being a part of CGI, personally, has provided a boost in my confidence and taught me how to work in a community. On the last day of the event, we volunteered with nearly a dozen local community organisations, working on everything from urban agriculture to mural paintings. It helped me engage with other young leaders across the world who are as passionate as I am about making the world a better and healthier place. It has taught me how I can scale and sustain my work to make a difference,” she says.
On her future plans, Vasudha offers, “I’m planning to do my Master’s in Interior Architecture and want to pursue my career in Heritage Retrofit, as I love working with waste material and even did a project in college where I made installation and furniture out of waste material. After graduating from Pearl Academy, I’m looking forward to incorporating sustainable living in structural design as a practice. I love to travel. I really want to travel the world and meet new people and gain new experiences,” she signs off.