By Rachel Stanley
Rachel is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Rachel below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Young people need a presence in the realm of U.S. foreign assistance. They need to be seen, and their concerns should be heard. As a university student, my view of young “movers and shakers” comes from a university setting. U.S. foreign aid covers a wide variety of topics, too many for any size student movement to cover passionately. Recently, in my own experience, there has been a considerable outpouring of student energy for certain causes, particularly Haiti. It is fascinating which disasters that energy gets extended to or not. For example, at my own university, news of Haiti’s earthquake created a huge fundraising effort, one that closely mirrored the amount of money that the U.S. government itself sent to Haiti. But what about student efforts for the victims of the Pakistani and Chinese floods? Not so much. U.S. foreign aid is a device all its own, but I think that, in many ways, student movements and student responses to world events are a reflection of the way that our older American counterparts are feeling. It is too early to tell how much of USAID’s money will go towards Pakistani or Chinese flood relief, but based on the U.S.AID figures for the 2010 fiscal year, more American money was donated to Haiti than to Sudan, Iraq, Uganda, and Colombia (http://www.usaid.gov/policy/budget/money/) . Haiti has taken the crown. I think that student initiatives can act as a mirror of official U.S. foreign assistance policy, but students also have the tremendous power of being able to get the ball rolling in terms of how Americans prioritize aid. As Generation Y comes of age and begins to enter the work force and adulthood, we have such power and responsibility. We can affect U.S. aid. We can get money directed where we want. It’s possible.

Rachel Stanley is an undergrad at Elon University in North Carolina. Working towards a B.A. in international studies, she is interested in all things Africa, but also North-South issues and human rights in general.

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