Michigan 4-H’er attends the Global Youth Institute World Food Prize Symposium

After a long day of school or work, the first thing on your mind may be filling your growling stomach. Michigan 4-H'er Maeve Alflen will be the first to admit that there has never been a shortage of filling, nutritious food at her house.

January 30, 2014 - Author: Mariah Montenegro

EAST LANSING, Mich. – After a long day, whether coming home from school, an extracurricular activity, work or a 4-H club meeting, the first thing on your mind may be filling your growling stomach. Michigan 4-H’er Maeve Alflen will be the first to admit that there has never been a shortage of filling, nutritious food at her house.

“Growing up with a dietitian for a mother, a healthy diet has always been a given for me,” she said.

In an unexpected -- and life-changing -- meeting, Maeve was introduced to the “Ugandan Thunder” Christian choir group and learned of the malnutrition that the people of Uganda face. During one of the choir’s performances, she noticed a woman passing out brochures with information about the hunger crisis in Uganda. Seeing this brochure was all Maeve needed to take action here.

Determined to make a difference, she decided to conduct research about this crisis, then write and submit a five-page paper to the Global Youth Institute World Food Prize Symposium. The idea to subm

it an essay came from Michigan State University Extension educators who focus on global and cultural education for Michigan 4-H. They were looking for original essays on the topic “Ending Hunger in our Lifetime: A Call to Action.” Alflen titled her paper “Bringing Prosperity Through Nourishment.” Its main focus was providing assistance and awareness to those who are hungry in Uganda. She was awarded the opportunity to attend the symposium, held in Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 17-19, 2013.

Maeve and 250 other high school students and teachers from across the United States and around the world gathered to tackle world hunger. She was the only delegate to represent Michigan at the symposium.This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity allowed Maeve to learn from and connect with world leaders, business representatives, and youth and teachers on agriculture and feeding the world. She said one of the highlights of the trip was hearing the president of Iceland, Olafur Grimsson, speak on the effects of global warming on his country. Another was the keynote speaker, His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson, who spoke about the importance of scientific research to help feed a hungry world.

In addition to hearing from internationally renowned speakers, Maeve presented her findings to a panel of international experts from around the world and youth from the United States and Mexico. As stated in her paper, promoting programs in small communities around the United States will allow children to gain awareness of the hunger crisis and teach the importance of service and compassion.

“The color of our skin, the religion that we practice, the language we speak or the fact that we are thousands of miles away from them will make no difference at all to a child in Uganda -- or anywhere, for that matter -- who receives food because of our effort,” Maeve said. “It is a human right to be fed, not a privilege."

Those interested in attending a conference such as the Global Youth Institute World Food Prize Symposium or getting involved in any Michigan 4-H Youth Development program to showcase their passion for making a difference in their community and in the world should contact their local MSU Extension office.

(Photo featured in article pictures Alflen and His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson)

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