This fall, West Virginia Wesleyan College and Oxfam America co-hosted the 2008 Engaging Our World Conference in conjunction with the 2008 Bonner Scholars Fall Congress Meeting. 300 students, administrators and organization representatives from 65 campuses and 20 organizations came to Wesleyan’s campus October 24-26, 2008 to attend workshops and events centered on social justice, as well as the keynote speaker on Saturday evening, Raj Patel.
Friday, October 24th, the conference began with a welcoming session – both to welcome everyone to West Virginia Wesleyan and to the amazing conference starting that evening. Student leaders on the EOW Planning Committee introduced themselves, as well as a short video to discuss EOW and Bonner Congress as one event. (See video below!) Also, Dr. Eric Waggoner, one half of the duo “The Frets”, sang and performed a couple songs for the audience centered around political engagement.
Saturday, October 25th, the workshops started early that day (8.15a!) covering all types of topics from homeless voting rights to fair vs. free trade, and social media to mountain top removal. At lunch and in the late afternoon, organization representatives set up their tables in French A. See Dining Hall to get students energized in social justice topics like political research, Ugandan genocide, mountaintop removal and legislation to end poverty – just to name a few! Following the Organizational Fair, EOW attendees ate an “Eat So They Can” dinner in which campus groups donate and cook delicious food, and the admission for the dinner goes toward one international and one local non-profit.
That evening, Kitty Correal, a junior International Studies major, and Dr. Kim Yousey, Dean of Community Engagement, welcomed on stage Raj Patel as the 2008 EOW Keynote Speaker. Patel, a journalist, food policy expert and author of the book Stuffed and Starved, spoke to a large crowd in Wesley Chapel about the systems in the world food market that negatively affect the distribution of food, as well as everything attached to it: quality/quantity of food, the global economy, poverty, the environment, fuel, consumerism and so on. Following his talk, the students in the audience engaged in a dynamic Q&A session. For more information about Raj, please go to: www.apbspeakers.com.
Immediately following Raj’s talk, three female Wesleyan students – Cara Clark, Jennifer Jones and Emily Zahn – performed their rendition of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”. Zahn commented, “‘Vagina Monologues’ helps to raise awareness on abuse and injustice so it was important to do this show at a social justice conference. ” The show is also a part of the charity “V-Day”. For more information on what the show is about, or if you are interested in the “V-Day” organization, please follow this link.
Sunday, October 26, signaled the closing of the EOW conference with guests Wayne Meisel, President of the Bonner Foundation, and Senator John Unger II, WV State Senator, speaking to a crowd of attendees in Wesley Chapel. Both Meisel and Unger addressed how students can impact civic and community engagement on their campuses and beyond. Furthermore, both stressed the importance to not only vote in the upcoming presidential election, but to also hold whichever candidate accountable for actual, positive “change” after November 4th.
The EOW Planning Committee would like to thank everyone who not only attended EOW and Bonner Congress, but also those who helped plan this amazing conference. We could not have done this without your passion and dedication!
Here is the video that we presented at the welcoming session!
Directed by Chaz Barracks and Rachel “RJ” Stackpole – Students of WVWC.