Village Focus International
For her Luce year, Christina will support the work of Village Focus International (VFI), the first international nonprofit organization to be founded in Laos (in 2000). VFI aims to enhance local leadership development in an effort to bring about positive fundamental social change. The Lao program serves remote, usually ethnic minority communities in the southern uplands through three programmatic areas: Healthy Village and Local Leadership, Land and Livelihoods, and Protection and Empowerment for Women and Children. VFI has 50 staff and 30 volunteers, a vast majority of whom are from Laos or surrounding countries. Christina will assist its well-trained and dynamic local Lao staff on issues ranging from land security to environmental stewardship and local management of forest, water and other natural resources. Recent Luce Scholar Reid Magdanz was placed with VFI in the 2012-2013 year.
Christina Cilento is a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she studies environmental policy and sustainability. Originally from Allentown, PA, she is particularly interested in climate change and energy systems and how these intersect with global social injustices. On campus, Christina has served as a core organizer of Northwestern’s fossil fuel divestment campaign and president of the Associated Student Government, through which she has gained experience lobbying her administration and crafting policies that benefit the student body. In addition, she serves as the Student Advisory Board representative for the Program in Environmental Policy and Culture and was a founder and editor of Northwestern’s first environmental publication, In Our Nature. In 2015, Christina was selected as one of ten students from the U.S. to travel to the UN’s COP21 climate change conference in Paris, where she met with delegates from countries at the front lines of climate disasters, thus propelling her interest in global environmental justice and challenging her to critique Western approaches to tackling the climate problem. Christina’s campus involvements and her exposure at COP21 have inspired her to pursue a career in environmental advocacy, using law and policy to bring about social change. In her spare time, Christina enjoys perfecting her cooking, crocheting and knitting skills, all of which are, admittedly, limited.