By strange coincidence, this week I had the honor, on back-to-back evenings, of speaking at the two universities that played each other for this past year’s national collegiate hockey championship: Miami of Ohio and Boston University. Although their loyalties may be divided when it comes to hockey, it was amazing to see how united the student bodies of the two schools are in their activism around ending the suffering of people in Sudan and Congo.
At Miami of Ohio, we focused on the "good news stories" emerging out of African peace processes. Contrary to the doom and gloom of most news coverage, Africa is actually full of success stories, of countries that have transformed themselves out of war or crisis into peaceful democracies. There is no reason, with the right diplomatic support from the U.S., that Congo and Sudan can’t be the next ones to transition from war to peace.
At Boston University the students honed in on Congo and how our demand for cell phones and laptops inadvertently helps fuel the worst sexual violence in the world. We focused on what people can do in response. Rather than feeling guilty, angry, or sad, let’s use these same electronic products to call or email the companies that sell us these devices and tell them we want them to produce "conflict-free" cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, digital cameras, and video games.
Students have been at the vanguard of the movement to end the genocide in Darfur. They are again leading the charge in helping to catalyze efforts to end the world’s deadliest war in Congo. This week I had the chance to witness how the campus-based human rights movement continues to grow and seek new ways to help change the world for the better.