Presenting Ways to Deter Child Marriage in South Asia at the 2019 Earth Charter Education Conference

Presenting Ways to Deter Child Marriage in South Asia at the 2019 Earth Charter Education Conference-image

This January, I pushed myself to do something I am not the biggest fan of — public speaking.

While I have done my share of presentations in classes, it was my first time presenting in front of experts and academics in my field of interest: international development. When I learned about the Earth Charter Education Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, I applied to be one of the presenters. I had the honor of being invited to present and, with financial assistance from CIPA, I was able to attend this international conference. It was an inspiring three days where I had the pleasure of representing CIPA and Cornell.

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The central theme of the 2019 Earth Charter Education Conference was Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which calls for inclusive and quality education for all and promotes lifelong learning. It was a three-day event full of opportunities for sharing experiences, pedagogical approaches, and research on how education is at the center of all development initiatives as well as the anchor of all SDGs.

Over the course of the fall semester and outside of my classes, I conducted research on my topic for the conference: how education can be a tool to reduce rates of child marriage in South Asia.

Prior to my presentation, I was extremely nervous. Following the presentation, I received not only positive feedback but constructive comments. Audience members suggested additional sources to explore for further development and overall improvement of the research. Attending this conference helped me overcome my fear of presenting/public speaking and motivated me to continue working on my research topic once I returned to Cornell.


As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I gained firsthand experience on the impact quality education can have on a child, her/his family, and the community. As a first-generation American, I was always taught to value my education by my parents who did not have such educational opportunities in Nepal. At the conference, I met practitioners, academics, and policymakers who are promoting and implementing SDG 4 to achieve sustainable solutions in their respective fields. This experience helped further my passion to become an effective agent in international development.

Palina Gurung is a second-year CIPA student concentrating in international development, focusing on the role of women and children in developing countries. She was born and lived in Nepal throughout her childhood which motivates her passion to help craft attainable solutions to development challenges. At Cornell, Palina is a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow in Hindi and South Asia.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from James Madison University.

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