Everyone has a part to play as a world citizen, according to UW Tacoma senior Youcef Bennour.
This past November, Bennour, who is double-majoring in computer engineering and mathematics, travelled to Washington, D.C.. He attended the annual conference hosted by the World Affairs Council of America (WACA), an organization dedicated to facilitating global engagement and understanding.
A large part of WACA’s mission is relating people to the world around them. Bennour has spent the last year serving as one of two students on the World Affairs Council Tacoma’s board. "Their goal is to connect students to the global community, and they wanted young voices on their board so they reached out to me," Bennour recalled. He works on one of the council's four committees. "One of the big things I do is connect the council to local businesses," he said.
Going to D.C. gave Bennour the opportunity to connect with world leaders and officials. “The experience was crazy,” he said. "Sitting next to presidential candidates or ministers. I can't even describe the feeling." The conference consisted of lectures held by prominent individuals, lunches with ambassadors from different countries and the opportunity to learn from influential institutes, like the Atlantic Council. “I got to learn about issues I already had opinions about from a scholarly perspective,” he said. “One researcher was working on a piece about Algeria, where I’m from. I learned a lot of things about Algeria that I didn’t think about. It gave me a new perspective.”
Bennour hopes his experience with the World Affairs Council would show students in Tacoma the power of understanding their unique role as global citizens. “We might think that Tacoma is nothing compared to the rest of the world - like it's this small piece,” he said. “But seeing it on the national scale, and seeing the importance of the service you give and how it affects the nation itself, that was really important to me.”
The World Affairs Council offers a unique opportunity to those who might not otherwise consider themselves global citizens, because it allows them to see a world so much bigger than themselves. “I feel like students look at the global community, but they don't know what it means, they don't know how they can contribute to it,” Bennour said. “But if we can connect a bridge between the Tacoma community and the students to the global community, I feel like a lot of change can happen.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or email@example.com