“Sidekicks Unite”: Learning to be a helper, not a hero
“What does it mean to let go of a heroic journey to become a sidekick?”
The question, asked by Millennium Campus Network (MCN) program director Abigail Kelble, kicked off this year’s Millennium Campus Conference (MCC), which assembled over 500 delegates from 50 nations across the world for one week at the United Nations Headquarters to grow, learn and unite as sidekicks. Melton Fellow Maryanne Karuga and I were able to participate in the conference thanks to a Melton Opportunity.
Being a sidekick, Kelble argues, means that as global citizens, we should focus more on being change agents rather than changemakers. The former fosters and prepares us for the latter.
As a move to empower student leaders globally, the Millennium Campus Network organizes the MCC annually to motivate university student leaders advancing global development to learn, challenge, grow, and connect with a global community of changemakers. The 2015 MCC took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, NYC, which provided a platform for MCC delegates to learn more about the proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) that the United Nations are set to achieve by 2035. The goals range from extreme poverty alleviation to sustainability in all dimensions.
The conference provided delegates the opportunity to hear from Mogens Lykketoft, current President-elect of the United Nations General Assembly; Ambassador Federico A. González, Representative of Paraguay to the United Nations, and Lakshmi Puri, assistant to the UN Secretary-General, about the SDG’s and steps the United Nations plans to take in order to achieve these goals.
The conference was not only a platform to learn and gain insights from renowned speakers such as Jeffrey Sachs, Ron Cordes and several others, but also enabled the delegates to network with several organizations already making impacts locally and globally, such as Peace Corps, Mama Hope, Students Helping Honduras, and Engineers without Borders. Through these connections, I can envision collaborations in the future with these organizations in carrying out impactful projects. In addition, delegates ahad the opportunity to witness the launch of the Peace Campaign, Equality Campaign and Oceans Campaign.
The Millennium Campus Conference was a life-changing experience and enabled me understand the importance of the 5 magic words when planning to work in any community: “How Can I Help You?” That is a crucial question that can determine the extent of impact an individual or organization can make in a community. Also, understanding that being a sidekick advocating for change is good enough made me motivated to continually be a change agent.