My name is Willie Freeman, and I am a 21-year-old rising senior at Cornell University, studying International Agriculture and Rural Development with a minor in International Relations.
I was born in Manhattan and raised in Fair Haven, New Jersey. I spent my spring semester working at a grassroots NGO in San Jose, Costa Rica on issues of government transparency and civil society participation in politics, as well as at an agriculture and conservation research institution in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. I have always been interested in the injustice, conflict, and inequality surrounding issues of food, agriculture, and natural resources. As climate change emerges at the forefront of these issues, I believe that careful distribution of resources and an emphasis on sustainable agriculture will be vital to avoid widespread humanitarian catastrophes. The role of the United Nations in studying and working to improve these conflicts and crises is extremely inspiring to me, and I hope to contribute to these efforts this summer and learn what I can about the process. The Temple of Understanding is of specific interest to me because of its multidisciplinary mission and focus on the roles of dialogue and cultural exchange in humanitarian issues.