No Longer a Bystander

  • Naomita Malik '09  

“When you put 600 students from six continents and 119 countries together, expect something to happen,” said Naomita Malik ’09

Since returning from the Education Without Borders conference, held in the United Arab Emirates last month, Malik has been e-mailing others who attended the conference, discussing economic and social issues and brainstorming solutions.

Malik, who represented Franklin & Marshall College and her home country of India at the conference, has even begun a dialogue about development issues in her own country with the former president of India.

Education Without Borders is a biennial international student conference, held this year at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, from March 31 to April 3. It aimed at creating cross-cultural links among the students and with the business, education, political and humanitarian leaders.

“It opened my eyes to the reality that I must not be a bystander looking at the problems of the world,” Malik said. “I am responsible to be part of the solution.”

Malik submitted a paper on the socio-economic and political effects of global climate change to earn an invitation to the conference, and the College helped to fund the trip.

The conference was meant to be a two-way learning experience aimed at building relationships and understanding new perspective, she said. “You are basically a sponge while there, trying to take in everything you can. It is what you do after that is the real effect of the conference,” she said.

Conversations started at the conference have continued through e-mails and chats on Facebook.

“We’re still talking,” Malik said. “Every day I receive e-mails, papers and articles from friends discussing ideas, sharing concerns and talking about how to move to solutions.”

Among the world leaders who attended was A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former president of India, who recently sent Malik an e-mail about his perspective on several issues they had discussed at the conference.

“He also asked me what I wanted to be remembered for, and what I would like the world to be like in 2030,” Malik said. Understandably, she is taking her time before writing back. “It’s not the kind of question and he’s not the kind of person you answer lightly.”

After graduation, Malik plans to pursue a master of business administration degree at the University of Notre Dame. Her studies will be funded by Ernst & Young, a global business-consulting group based in the United Kingdom, through the company’s Your Master Plan program.

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