As I brace myself for my final year at American University, graduate level classes, and a highly uncertain job market at the end of the tunnel, I’m (at least a little) comforted by my experiences at AIDemocracy this summer. This organization’s ability to connect the dots between global issues (socio-political stability, food security, local organic agriculture initiatives, US aid policy, and child mortality rates, for example), rather than viewing them in isolation, has always appealed to me. I find myself almost looking forward to writing my senior thesis and diving deeper into these systemic issues that impact global development, global health, and global peace and security.

Over the last few months, many of my micro-level experiences and personal relationships have come to fit into a bigger puzzle of US foreign assistance and trade policies. Researching and blogging about progressive alternatives in the development field has shown me that effective solutions are out there, that their supporters do exist in the public policy arena, and that I’ve actually seen many of these approaches in practice with my own two eyes. My experiences abroad have taken on new meaning and weight, and I’ve realized that young people like myself are, while not scholarly experts, some of the best equipped proponents of such policies.

We are an online generation, the first group of young people fully familiar with Google, Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Skype, and WordPress. Yes, this has made some of us lazy, overweight, and phenomenally uninteresting. I would counter that it has made far more of us open-minded and better attuned to global problems. All of that Facebook chatting with acquaintances around the world is worth much more than we generally admit—it’s time we started using it to shift the national policy dialogue about global development, global health, and global peace and security.

It’s been a comfort to share experiences with my fellow activists this summer, to learn we’ve traveled and worked in some of the same communities in the developing world, and to build relationships within the movements for global justice that we’ve chosen to be a part of. It’s been a pleasure getting to know so many of you this summer, and I hope you’ll stay in touch – you’ll always be able to find me through the AIDemocracy network. Meanwhile, I hope to share my continuing research on global development initiatives this fall!