Miami meeting, March 2015

UNIL students take their project to the CGIU conference in Miami

Four students from the University of Lausanne were in Miami (Florida, USA) for the 8th edition of the annual conference of the Clinton Global Initiative University to advance their two projects selected from 9 others. The conference brought together more than 1000 students of 80 different nationalities selected for their commitment to current global challenges (training, environment, peace, human rights, public health and the fight against poverty), as well as celebrities and experts on hand to discuss innovative solutions.

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The UNIL delegation: Jonathan Bourquenoud, Kelly Ruso, Julie Laeremans, Jérôme Héritier

This conference is not restricted to the event itself and each year attracts a growing community of students intent on making things happen. CGIU asks them to develop a concrete project which can make a tangible and measurable impact on one of the five areas in question, within a specific lapse of time.

The conference provided an opportunity for students to attend sessions presented by experts and proven “change-makers” in different fields, meet other student “commitment makers”, bring their project to a wider audience and receive practical advice, or indeed take a selfie with Bill Clinton.

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Delegates and UNIL Liaison Officer Sylvie Kohli with Bill Clinton

Two innovative projects

Two projects were the basis for selecting students for this inaugural participation of UNIL, one of the rare European institutions present:


‘ATMOSPHERIC VAPOUR CONDENSER: Turn air into water’

Jérôme Héritier and Jonathan Bourquenoud are currently developing a system to produce water from atmospheric vapour which can be used in even the most arid regions. At the conference they had a chance to present their project on a stand and answer questions from interested parties.

As Jonathan explains : ''The CGI U provided us with an opportunity to meet people with greats ideas and knowledge about new projects and how to manage them. It was really interesting to share those ideas with other students and explain them our own projects. It helped us understand how we should adjust our speech regarding our interlocutor, their knowledge and their point or interest.''

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Stands at the 'Exchange' exhibition

‘NTAMBUTSA: Textile training centre for women in Burundi’

Kelly Ruso and Julie Laeremans are pursuing their project to set up a training centre in Burundi to help women acquire the skills they need to work in the textile industry.  The conference enabled them to meet another group of students conducting a similar project in Malawi. Contacts were established, as Kelly makes clear: ''The CGIU Miami Meeting had globally a positive impact on our commitment. First of all, the networking events were useful because we had the opportunity to meet other students having more or less similar commitments as ours. We asked questions about the challenges they faced and also about the financing that they needed to get started.''

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The context of the Ntambutsa project.

The UNIL International Relations Office continues to offer support to committed students and a new call for CGIU participation will be made this autumn.

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