A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to serve as a semi-final judge for the Enactus World Cup in San Jose, California. Enactus is the world’s largest experiential learning platform dedicated to creating a better world while developing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and social innovators. The Enactus network of global business, academic and student leaders are unified by the vision—to create a better, more sustainable world. They are made up of 72,000 students across 1,730 campuses in 36 countries, positively impacting the lives of 1.3 million people each year. Guided by educators and supported by business leaders, teams of students conduct needs assessments in their community, identify potential solutions to complex issues and implement community impact projects.
This is an organization that focuses solely on undergraduate college students across the world. A team from Lambton College in Canada won the World Cup, and they were impressive. They call their project One Seed, which works with people living in Zambia, Africa to achieve their goals: food security, health care, clean water, education, alternative energies, and to build a local economy.
In the rural villages in Zambia there is no electricity or running water, and 71% of people are unable to meet their minimum daily nutritional needs. Since food security was the number one issue for the people of Zambia, Enactus Lambton worked with leading agronomists in Canada and in Zambia to improve their traditional farming practices. Workshops were created to teach no-till farming, which is a way of growing crops year-to-year without disturbing the soil through plowing to keep water and nutrients in the soil, while decreasing erosion. By implementing no-till farming, farmers' yields and revenues have increased 3-5 times and they can now feed their families all year long and have disposable income. Using this disposable income, the Zambians can now improve their lives in all other areas by having access to clean water, building schools and health clinics, implementing alternative energies, and building local economies, which were unheard of in the past.
Think about this. College students are using their time, talents, and effort to solve problems for people they don’t know. They aren’t just studying and learning for their own academic improvement; they’re committed to solving problems that will make the world a better place.
While Enactus is doing some amazing things, I have not found a group empowering high school students in the same way. Seeing what others are doing to enact change in the world further encourages us at OCA to lead our students to be contributors.
This is just one more reason why we have created the Contribute Challenge at OCA. The Contribute Challenge is a written curriculum that walks 7th - 12th grade students through understanding who God created them to be, and teaches them to focus on specific problems in our world so they can use their gifts to make an image-bearing contribution to our world. The stories already produced from this challenge in the first two months are amazing.
The first group to take action was a group of seventh-grade boys. They started the 4 Project and have partnered with Hope Academy in Ghana, Africa. They know that not all people are blessed with quality education or the means to access it, and they wanted to do something about it. So, they have identified one child in Africa, and they are selling products as a means to pay for this child's tuition. Let me remind you that these are seventh graders! It’s amazing what our students can do when they inhabit a culture that values the empowerment of image-bearing.
Since beginning the Contribute Challenge these students have identified a problem, found a solution, and they’re using their talents, time, and energy to make a life-giving change in the world. What more could you ask for in an education? As I’ve said before, this program is in its infancy, and since we haven’t found anything like it out there to use as an example, there will certainly be some growing pains as we continue to develop the platform we plan to build on. But if this is a standard example of what our students will continue to do in the years to come, I think we’re on a path that will please God and develop young people who will make an incredible impact on the world.
What are you doing in your home, on your campus, or in your church to create this empowerment culture? I would love to hear your stories!
Feel free to start listening to the Contribute Podcast, sponsored by OCA! You can find it in the podcast store under Contribute, or follow one of these links:
Contribute Podcast (iTunes Store)
Contribute Podcast (Podbean)
Let us hear your contributor story. Periodically, we enjoy offering contributor spotlights and would love to spotlight you or someone you know. Who is making a difference? What children do you know contributing to society in big ways? Let us know through the contact page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.