A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

How to Change the World

Often times I find myself bothered by situations around the world and often times I ask myself how to make a difference, how to change the world. And as a student of BA International Studies I know that I am not the only one juggling this question.

Well, the other day my fellow students gave me the answer, twice.

You want to change the world? Good.

Here’s how you do it: One cup at a time.

Let me guess, you look puzzled right now, don’t you? Let me explain.

Here is a tiny detail, the machines at our campus had been giving us free drinks since the beginning of this term. Of course this was followed by a huge consumption of drinks. I mean we are all students and we all love free stuff, right? What most of us missed however while enjoying our free drinks was that this situation also meant a HUGE consumption of plastic cups.

One person didn’t miss it though. She saw a problem and came up with a really simple solution.

I walked into campus one day and went to one of the coffee machines only to see a poster that warned us all about the problem. The solution was so simple, something that everyone could easily do. Below is the poster.

one cup

After this I posted a photo of the poster on Facebook and an old teacher of mine from back home (Istanbul!) saw it. She loved the idea, told us how she had been discussing the same issue with the teachers at my old high school and how this was a solution that could be applied there too. So there you go, one student made a poster and –practically- saved the environment! One cup at a time! Of course not every environmental problem around the world is solved but change begins around you and it depends on you to spread it and encourage others to follow the same action that you are taking.


Same day, I saw three tables put together in the cafeteria with lots of crafts supplies on it, surrounded by university students trying to cut, paste and paint little bits of paper. A girl came up to me two seconds later and asked if I would like to make a bookmark. Of course I wanted to but I also asked her what this was for.

IMG_2511Turns out, the Community Outreach Committee has decided to participate in the StudentsRebuild’s Literacy Challenge to improve youth reading and writing skills around the world! For each bookmark sent in, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate $1 to Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali) and Asia (Nepal).


So this is another example of how to change the world: One bookmark at a time.

You want to change the world? Good.

Recognize a problem, come up with a solution but start small, start simple and spread the word.

Change will happen eventually. One cup at a time. One bookmark at a time.

The key is: One step at a time.

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2015 by in Ecesu, Student Life and tagged , , , .

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