April 04, 2024

Global Famine and Policy Advocacy: Citizen Diplomacy Certification Week 8

Utah Global Diplomacy is delighted to have launched its Citizen Diplomacy Certification as part of the International Leadership Academy! During the ten week course, the Citizen Diplomacy Certification cohort will dive into world affairs topics taught by dynamic local subject matter experts, and elevate their professional experience through immersive, hands-on activities.  

This week we looked at global famine through the lens of humanitarian work by Marisol Vidal. She is the International Consultant within the Field Operations Division of the Welfare and Self-Reliance Services Department (WSRS) at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she supervises Welfare, Self-reliance, and Humanitarian Aid initiatives across Latin America. She shared that in 2022 the Humanitarian Services of The Church had 3,692 humanitarian projects, $1.02 billion in expenditures, 6,300,000 hours volunteered, and 190 territories and countries served. One participant asked how we can make connections and build trust with community members when stepping into another country and culture. Marisol shared two pieces of advice: Listen and Respect. First, research before a project is crucial but it isn't always enough, we need to listen. Second, respect them because we might become a better person when we are willing to respect and learn from others. Marisol also mentioned that collaboration is essential in famine relief. Her organization has partnered with governments, UNICEF, orphanages, food banks, CARE, Project Hope, and many more local, national, and international organizations. She recommended downloading the Just Serve app or going to the Just Serve website to get involved in nonpartisan, nonreligious local and international opportunities.

marisol global famine ILA 2024


During the latter portion of our class, we delved into the art of policy advocacy. With insights from our guest speaker with over 30 years of experience, we uncovered strategies to more effectively engage with legislators and advocate for issues we care about. Recognizing that elected officials are accountable to their constituents, we explored methods of overcoming fears in interacting with them, emphasizing their role as fellow community members. Establishing rapport through phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings with city, county, and state leaders drives change. Particularly highlighted was the 320-day interim for forging connections and shaping legislation. This grassroots approach underscores the importance of local involvement as a precursor to broader national and global advocacy efforts, highlighting the need for incremental adjustments and meaningful connections before scaling up engagement.


Learn more about our Citizen Diplomacy Certification and other opportunities with our International Leadership Academy!