by George J Elbaum
World Affairs is a San Francisco civic organization based on the belief that solutions to the world’s most challenging problems are found when the private, philanthropic, and public sectors work together. As reflected by its motto, Conversations That Matter, World Affairs “convenes thought leaders, change makers, and engaged citizens to share ideas, learn from each other, and effect change. Connecting people in this way leads to informed thinking, conversation, and actions that transcend traditional boundaries and lead to lasting solutions to global problems.” World Affairs operates primarily through the following programs:
- Global Policy Forum explores political, economic, security and environmental policy and practice through more than 100 moderated conversations every year which are open to our members and the public.
- Global Philanthropy Forum, a project of World Affairs, is a diverse global community of individual philanthropists, grant makers, social investors and executives of private and public foundations committed to international causes.
- Education Program supports and inspires the global leaders of tomorrow with a variety of opportunities and resources for students and educators to broaden their knowledge of international affairs.
For over 40 years, inspiring and equipping young people to be global citizens has been critical to the World Affairs mission. The Education Program therefore focuses on building global awareness, leadership and civic engagement in students and educators. It offers opportunities to meet with international experts, work with local nonprofits, participate in global conversations, explore international careers and study abroad.
One part of the Education Program is the Student Ambassador Program: beginning in October, Student Ambassadors meet twice a month for seven months, working in small groups that select an issue of global importance they want to explore in greater detail. Each group is matched with a Bay Area organization that is actively working to address that issue, giving students a deeper understanding of what it takes to successfully tackle complex international challenges. The program culminates with Global Issues Night, where each group has the opportunity to share their understanding and insights on their chosen issue with the World Affairs community.
I was asked to speak to a group of Student Ambassadors, parents and educators focused on the issue of genocide, and the date was selected because of its proximity to the UN International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide. The event was organized by Nikki Brueggeman, World Affairs’ Education Program Officer, and arranged by Nikki Bambauer, Program Coordinator of the JFCS Holocaust Center. I was introduced to the audience by Linda J Calhoun, Member of World Affairs’ Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. Also in attendance was World Affairs staff member Angelina Donhoff.