One evening, I got a call from Ashley, the program manager of Social Innovation. That call was something special and it entirely changed my day. Actually, weeks long ago, I applied for the Ashoka U Conference. Every year, CQUni provides a scholarship opportunity for the two deserving students to take part in Ashoka U conference and this time, it was being held in San Diego, California.

Yes, I was selected to attend Ashoka U Conference which was held in San Diego, California on Feb 21-23. I attended this year session with the social innovation change champions along with the VC, Program manager, Dean and academic staffs. It was one of the memorable moments of my life and I really want to thank the CQUni for providing such incredible opportunity.

Day 1:

The conference started with the keynote : Welcome change.

It started with a storytelling ( I forgot the name of that storyteller). The story was something about his childhood and how he got inspired to become a change-maker. But the way he presented his story really connected me and I could feel that story within me.

After the storytelling, there were four speakers presented who are currently working on four different social issues. Among them, one of the issue that really terrified me was about the low wages in the hospitality industry. Speaker Saru Jayaraman revealed that the current workers are working just 2 dollar per hour in the hospitality industry in US. And this is really terrified situation compared to Australia. She and her team is dedicated to raise this issue through strong movement. So, she was strongly urging to support her movement.

After the welcome session, there were different sessions held and the participants had to choose the session they would like to attend. On Day 1, I attended six session. All of them were informative and something to learn from. But, the one that really resonated with me were the Big Idea Talk and Screw up night.

One of the talk in Big Idea was about the importance of playfulness. Most of us have tendency to reduce the habit of playfulness as we start to grow up but the fact is that the habit of playfulness is actually good to our brain. It helps us to become more creative and critical to problem solving.

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On the other hand, Screw up night was all about talking failures and embarrassing moments. I was extremely surprised when participants started sharing their failure and horrible moments. One thing I have learned is that sometime its good to talk about failure. It doesn’t have to be success story always.

Day 2

The conference started with honoring the change-making campuses of the year:

Hanyang University

North Central College

University of Evansville

On Day 2, Marina Kim, the founder of Ashoka U facilitated the four speakers. The conversation was based on the expanding possibilities for Higher Ed in the 21st Century. One of the conversation between Andrew Petter, VC of Simon Fraser University and Marina Kim was regarding the University and its responsibility. According to him, most of the today’s university are focused on increasing their rank rather than actually creating the change in the society. Most of they thing that they are only the source of change making while the Andrew argued that now it’s time to include the community and learn from them.

I participated in the four session on Day 2. Some of them were effective while some were not. I can still remember the last session where everyone of them were the academic staffs and professionals while I was only the student. So, it was very difficult for me to understand the level of their conversation because most of them were talking about their professional issue and how to tackle those challenges. I was odd and I really felt disconnected. However, when it was my turn to express, I opened up as a student point of view about the issues our uni is tackling. They gave some couple of advice but I still not sure what they were talking about. However, I had their contact and probably will contact them near future.

Day 3

Since University of California San Diego (UCSD) was the co-host of the conference. So, the last sessions were placed in the UCSD, Our program manager Ashley Clarke presented on this day and she really did the great job – well presented. After that, we had a campus tour and final reception.

Next year, the conference will be in University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

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Published by Niraj Thapa Magar

An Engineering management post-grad specialized in strategic innovation and passionate about social innovation to create a positive impact in the society. As a chairperson of Social innovation Club of CQuniversity, Sydney and with two and half year experienced as an electrical engineer in telecommunication, he has built up an innovative mindset with passionate heart to create a better world for tomorrow. According to him, life is all about being happy and making other happy.

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