Today, Aug. 14, 2015, marks a key point in history: Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Havana, Cuba to inaugurate the first US embassy in Cuba in 54 years. This formally marks the establishment of a newfound relationship between the United States of America and Cuba.
Throughout the late 20th century until today, the United States enforced an embargo on Cuba and ceased maintaining relations with the Cuban government under the Fidel Castro regime, aside from Guantanamo Bay.
Because of this embargo, the United States had difficulties maintaining relationships with the Latin American region.
At the seventh Summit of the Americas, held in Panama this past April, many countries refused to join the summit unless Cuba was recognized by the United States, which would bar many opportunities for discussion and collective action.
Recently, it has been revealed that the Cuban government has reached out to the United States government for years after the initial embargo, trying to forge a new bond with each successive presidency.
However, current President Barack Obama has been able to forge a new, solid relationship. And this event is extremely appropriate to context of the Millennium Campus Conference because we at the Millennium Campus Network feel relationships are the foundation for successful global development and social justice initiatives.
Relationships are the keystone of global development. If improperly set, they can be the downfall of any progress. The relationship between the United States of America and Cuba over the last 50 years only served to halt progress.
The embargo set upon Cuba never accomplished its goal (US flushing out the Communist Party), and it severely damaged the United States' relationships with the rest of Latin America.
However, if forged well, they have the power to reconstruct the current paradigm. Now, the United States and Cuba will be able to work in conjunction with the other nations in the Summit of the Americas.
Without this new relationship between Cuba and the United States of America, nothing innovative or revolutionary would have happened.
Instead, after over 50 years, the United States and Cuba have reestablished ties.
We at the Millennium Campus Network feel that relationships drive change in the world. With relationships, there are more resources, more perspectives and more opportunities.
All of those involved in global development are trying to have a positive impact on the world, and through collaboration, our efforts can be deliberate, more specialized and more effective.
Fighting each other to vie for credit does more harm than good, especially when we look at the effects this belief has had on those we are trying to assist.
With this in mind, we encourage all youth leaders to continue to forge meaningful relationships with one another, so that youth can have the largest possible collective impact.
As is evidenced by this historic moment, relationships are key to moving forward and to promoting global development, global health, environmental conservation and social justice.