Changing the World, One T-Shirt at a Time

Today was graduation at MCC, the college where I teach.  The commencement speaker challenged the graduates to “Change the World.”

And the funny thing is, I think they will.  Three or four (or five or six) years ago, they were awkward, uncertain kids just out of high school, without too many clues.  Some are still finding their way; but some have a sense of confidence, focus, and purpose.

Three of my students and former students–actually, I don’t know if any of them are today’s graduates; one graduated a year ago, the other two have a year or two to go–have a plan to change part of the world.

They are going to an impoverished urban area in South Africa.  They want to empower women there.  One of them, diminuitive in size, has a big dream.  She has supported herself in college the last couple years by making T-shirts.

So this team of three young women from the US is going halfway around the world to help their sisters south of the equator set up a T-shirt shop.  They hope this adventure in small enterprise will do a small part in building a local economy and giving women some control over their own lives.

The alumna in our group will also be working in the public  schools, teaching girls how to reduce their likelihood of contracting AIDS and other STD’s.  It won’t be an “abstinence only” program–but she will be trying to give the girls confidence that they have the right to say “No.”

That will be a completely new concept for some of the young women.  They have never been told they have a right to choose what kind of life they want to have.

Other of our graduates will be doing different things.  Some are going on to graduate school in marriage and family therapy, some will be teachers, some are going into business, others into church-vocations as pastors, worship leaders, youth ministers.

And some are still finding themselves, even if that means moving back home and working for a while to pay off student loans.  There’s nothing wrong with that either.  I’m guessing there will still be things in the world that need changing three or four years from now.