For Timira Conley, Global Perspective Fuels Local Activism

Timira Conley has had an interesting academic year. The Arabic Language, Political Science double major has spent the past four months traveling the world. Her journeys to Thailand, Jordan and Turkey have fueled a passion for community activism and being a change agent for global issues.


What is One Young World, and how did you become involved?
One Young World is an annual summit that brings together bright young leaders from around the globe to share ideas and formulate innovating solutions to the biggest problems facing the world. There were 196 countries represented in Bangkok, Thailand for this year’s summit.

I originally applied as an independent delegate: meaning that I was not sponsored. Then, I went to the University and received sponsorship.

Did anything surprise you initially?
Strangely, for me, it was one of the first times I’ve experienced not feeling different. Everyone came from different parts of the world, but we all had similar passions and wanted to make the same kinds of change.

How did the One Young World Summit impact your perspective of global politics?
Being a part of the United States of America delegation was an amazing opportunity. Getting to experience, first-hand, working with global leaders and working within a think tank and coming up with collaborative solutions for change in various areas was something new for me, and it really broadened my political perspective. Experiencing different systems of government helped me learn how to navigate through making change in our own system effectively.

Everybody usually thinks about our relations to one another by the strength of our borders. I see that a lot in global politics where there’s not really any compassionate politics being practiced, and it’s more objective than subjective policy-making. Making a lot of friends that are from areas that are constantly discussed in the news really opens your eyes.

I went to Thailand days after the Paris attacks, so the French delegation had a big impact as well. The friendships and connections I built there put names to the stories we hear in our news cycles.

For instance, there were only four people who were a part of the Syrian delegation, and this was at the height of the civil war. One of my friends from there was the speaker for the education plenary session. He was advocating for refugee education, and continuing education. Even though there were only four delegates from Syria, they had the most impact.

How does local politics and activism interface with global political understanding?
Having a local understanding of the issues sets up the groundwork for understanding global issues. If you can relate everything back to your own community and your experiences, you can work effectively on any issue. I think that is lacking in global politics. There’s a failure to see all sides or to want to relate to the experiences of other people.

Can you describe a time in your community work that you’ve achieved a victory?
I’m a part of the Police Accountability Community Task Force for Wake County. Last summer, we began organizing. As a part of the legislative development team, we put together several proposals, and the work we are doing is really started to take shape. The conversation about police body cameras and other initiatives we’ve presented are starting to be discussed by the new Durham police chief and others. Having started less than a year ago, that’s a pretty big victory for me.

What’s advise do you offer young people who want to be a part of change locally and/or globally?
Showing up is 75% of the work. That’s the biggest thing that young people don’t do: show up. Engaging people my age in the political process and caring about the issues is something that I sort of always hit a wall with, prior to going to Thailand and living in Jordan. When I talk to people about the issues, they usually say they want to get involved, but the challenge is getting them to show up when it’s time to register, to vote, to march for some things.

Also, there’s not a place that you aren’t welcomed in in terms of government. That was something that I had to get over. I started out as an intern for a nonprofit and worked at the state capital building. I would often hear bills on the floor that I didn’t personally like. Then, I decided I was going to speak up, and I learned that it was my place to speak up. This is my life and the life of people in my community. So, you have to become comfortable in a place that is made for your voice.

What’s next for you?
In a few weeks I’ll be going to the Reykjavik Roundtable on Human Rights in Iceland. Long-term I want to expand my research into a book form and further my ideas. So, I’m not sure where that path will lead.

A sophomore, Timira has honed her passion for community activism through involvement in several CSLEPS programs. She was a member of the 2015 NC State Leadershape Institute; served as the social media chair for Service NC State meal packaging; and was a co-leader for the 2015 Fall Alternative Service Break experience to Washington D.C.

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