Last fall, Natalie Campbell, a sophomore in the College of Education and resident assistant in Straz Tower, began thinking about the topic of empowerment. Now only a few months later, those initial thoughts have transformed into InPowerInPeace week.
From April 5 through 7, a group of students who teamed with Campbell will be holding events that focus on the many facets of empowerment. Events include a simple dinner and discussion, documentary screening about microfinance, and open chapel and prayer services in various residence halls. In addition, students and faculty can explore different ways to get involved and pledge their support at a staffed table outside of the Brew between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. All of these events are aimed at reflection on empowerment as a universal issue.
Aaron Owen, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, who has also had a large role in planning for InPowerInPeace week, said that traditionally the week focuses on different aspects like female empowerment and singled-out minorities. “There is a little bit broader focus, so it is accessible to everyone,” he said.
While the organizers have identified these different categories of empowerment, including economic, female and social empowerment, and intends to touch on some of them individually during the week, their hope is that ultimately, students will acknowledge the idea that everyone is connected to these struggles.
Campbell explained: “We really wanted to look at it as a human struggle. Even when it comes to female empowerment, is that really just female? Isn’t that gender relations?” She continued, “It’s the community.”
These realizations came gradually for her as well. The idea for InPowerInPeace week was not a sudden revelation, but rather an evolution of contemplation.
“It started out as being a concern about materialism and trying to break away from materialism, as it prohibits our individual growth,” Campbell said. “That kind of morphed into female empowerment because I kind of thought that was something that females struggled with more than males.”
After she began discussing the topic of empowerment with her friends, coworkers and freshman residents, many quickly jumped on board with their support. It is a theme that they believe will thrive at Marquette.
“I really think that the Marquette community is one that genuinely cares and is concerned about ways to improve the world around them and genuinely trying to find the best way to do that,” Campbell said.
The week’s events are not sponsored by one particular organization, although there are contributors who hold leadership positions on campus. It was an idea that was generated by a few individuals who have carried their mission into its final stages; an approach that they feel is appropriate for this type of endeavor.
If the week proves to be successful, Campbell and Owen both expressed wishes that similar events will take place in the future, continuing in the tradition of being unaffiliated with any organization. They themselves have been empowered by the process of planning the events, and can see it continuing.
“A lot of the people who are involved right now are underclassmen, so I think it’s pretty feasible that they would carry it,” said Owen.
In accordance with Marquette ideals, Campbell sees this as a way for students to embrace what it means to be men and women for others. She said that service is most effective when human dignity is respected on both sides, rather than one taking a paternalistic view on the other.
“It’s really more accurate to walk into it humbly and say they’re human as well, and if there is anything I can do to empower their journey, that’s great,” said Campbell.
For more information on InPowerInPeace and a list of events, students can go to www.inpowerinpeace.org.
by Amanda Stewart