University Student Organizations Contribute to the Development of Citizenship and Civil Rights


Since the financial crisis of 2008, my family and I first started to hear and actually care about America’s national debt and financial issues. It wasn’t only us, and it wasn’t only about America’s debt issue. It was the whole international world, and it was about having confidence in America as if it is going to last or not. For me and my family, studying and working in America has always been a great goal to reach. However, the heavy weight of the American debt has always been there in the last year when my parents decided to send me to study in America. “Will be there a job for our son when he graduates in America??”, “Take a look at the American unemployment rates!!”, “Does the debt means America is broke!!” Those were some of the questions they thought about when thinking of the debt. This might sound harsh, but this is how one international family felt like sending its son to study and maybe later work in America.

After coming to America, I kept my personal point of view about the debt; “it is all paper issues”. Enjoying my living’s experience in America, I totally forgot about the whole American debt story. Not till my friend George told me about “UPtoUS” campaign, few months ago. Knowing more about UP to US, I found a great opportunity to participate in something that affects Americans and international students in the same time.

UP to US is “a nationwide campus competition that empowers students to educate their peers on our long-term national debt, how it could affect their economic opportunities, and what their generation can do to have a voice in raising awareness of our fiscal challenges.” According to the campaign’s website.


In the same way UP to US educates and influence American students about their national debt, it does the same for their international peers. Participating as a student ambassador in UP to US, provided me with answers for questions I’ve always had in mind. Furthermore, I started transferring those questions and answers to more students, and more importantly to my family back home in Syria.

Personally, my experience with UP to US goes further than its financial aspect. For me, UP to US is an example and an exercise for freedom of speech, and understanding citizens’ rights. I’m really surprised of the given freedom for students (Americans or not) to discuss the country’s debt, finance, spending, budget, and other financial issues. This practice will enhance the good citizenship spirit to every American. It will teach the students that their words, actions, and sense of responsibility matters to build a better nation. In the next few years, I wish to see such students’ campaigns and organizations in my country, Syria. Students’ campaigns that care about the future and sustainability of the country.


Toufik Simo.

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