Teodora Cakarmis '17, a French and Political Science major, received funding from the Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership to attend the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco.

Cakarmis attended the Conference of the Parties in order to continue a project she started during a summer internship with the Delegation of Palau to UNESCO - to organize an interactive space to give visibility to Palau and other Pacific states as well as raise awareness of ocean issues.

In addition to the experience she gained in completing her project, Cakarmis was able to discover innovative ways other 'climate change communicators' use in order to mobilize the public around the issue. She explored social networks, exhibitions, and performances as a medium for organizing around climate change mitigation and adaptation. In addition, she had the opportunity to seek out networks and mentors in the field of diplomacy and international affairs.

After returning from the conference, Cakarmis reflected on different styles of leadership, a focus of the Wilson Center:

During the insightful four days of COP22 I was able to observe the best negotiators in the world make their arguments, represent their country’s interests, and try and discredit other delegations’ assertions. I identified the blunt ones, the intimidating ones, the shady ones, but also the ones who stir the discussion in the right direction, the coalition builders, and even the genuine heartfelt humanists.

While I was setting up a booth for the Republic of Palau, I discovered my own personal way of leadership and how I could contribute to future climate change negotiations. In constructing a physical space where we could employ audiovisual digital materials and sensitize hundreds of diplomats of the plight the Small Island Developing States find themselves in, I uncovered my love for project-based work and I also realized I found teamwork energizing. I realized efforts to mitigate climate change have to be unifying and positive. One cannot put a dooming and finger pointing messages on a wall and expect the crowd to direct itself towards the solutions.

I became aware of my will and capacity to use storytelling, step by step policy solutions, and inclusive (difference-celebrating) type of leadership to contribute to the fight against the biggest threat the humanity faces: global warming.

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