They are the world

Last week’s failure of the North Korean rocket launch was a stark reminder that the world has a ways to go. Seven decades after Germany began developing atomic technology and 67 years after the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb to end World War II,  international conflict is still very real. Nations, peoples, individuals, ethnic groups, indigenous populations, armies, institutions and organizations are  scrambling to find some semblance of peace in the world. It’s still elusive. We have not arrived.

But there are glimmers of hope. Among them is a new generation with a world perspective unlike any of their predecessors. This generation of 20-somethings thinks nothing of hopping a plane to Belarus or making a temporary move to Brazil, Denmark, Australia or Kenya. To paraphrase a line from the Jackson/Ritchie song, “they are the world.”

Many of these students have gained this perspective through their collegiate experiences abroad.  At JMU, a university that ranks high for students studying abroad, this world view is strong, growing and highly productive. Last year, international affairs major Adam White (’14) participated in the 2011 INU Student Seminar at Hiroshima University, a conference sponsored by the International Network of Universities. For Adam, it was an affirming experience; already he had come to understand the critical nature of cross-cultural collaborations in formulating a vision for helping individuals in oppressed nations gain freedom.

As a result of his work, Adam received the 2011 Henry Fong Award, which recognizes an INU student for contributing to the network’s theme of global citizenship. And for his work, we have added Adam to JMU’s growing list of Be the Change individuals. 

In announcing the award, the INU said about Adam:

Adam White wrote a thoughtful and inspiring essay. He reflected on the concept of Global Citizenship and the ways that the INU Student Seminar reinforced his convictions about ethical obligations in an interconnected world. He argued persuasively that “different peoples, cultures, and belief systems are equally valuable parts of a greater human community” and that “it is the duty of each person and organization, regardless of background, to make choices that promote the welfare of this collective, diverse whole.” In addition, Mr. White presented a personal plan for carrying out this duty. He outlined a project designed to increase the visibility of persecuted North Koreans and to provide English language training to North Korean refugees.

Next week, a new group of international citizens will gather in Sweden for International Staff Training Week at Malmo University. Among the participants will be Jim Heffernan (’96), JMU public affairs associate. Jim’s participation is driven by JMU’s preeminence in the international organization.  Last October, JMU assumed the leadership of the organization for a three-year term. JMU is the only U.S. college or university in INU, which includes members from Australia, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.

During his week in Sweden, Jim will be a guest blogger for Be the Change, giving us all a glimpse into the international world that Adam has already grasped.  Look for Jim’s posts next week.

To learn more about Adam and his work with INU, visit

About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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