February 19, 2014
Read time : 4 min

This has been a really entertaining semester so far! I am sure that being part of the Up To Us competition has proved to be an invaluable experience for all teams. This past couple of months we have developed a deeper understanding of the implications of having a growing national debt, and gained a greater awareness of how differences in political institutions and groups play a role in our future fiscal outcome. At the same time, we sharpened our cross-cultural communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

At UTPA, community and campus outreach are the two main activities we have set to execute with passion. We have reached out to not just to the university student body, but also to low income neighborhoods and local high schools. One of the most difficult issues we ran into was the fact that many people get bored when you try to explain the national debt in technical terminology. Thankfully, we found a way to solve this problem. We teamed up with several organizations, both in- and off-campus, to find ways of explaining the debt in a less methodical terminology. One of the things we did was to design posters that reflected what would happen here in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) and pasted them all around the RGV in schools, coffee shops, libraries, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc.

Since we had a budget constraint, we decided not to use our money in ordering ephemeral fashions like sunglasses or stamps. We decided not to just throw facts in peoples’ faces, but to educate them so they can also educate their friends and relatives, spreading the word faster. One example amongst the many events we had was the play, “The Debt Ultimatum”. In creating a show that explained not what the national debt dollar amount is, but rather what can happen in the future if this amount continues to increase, we reached a larger group of people that was not accessible to us through ordinary tactics.

Planning and executing has been hard, but it will not be without rewards. Maybe we are not the ones making the decisions, but we can get informed and show our representatives that we care about this issue. It is time to make our voices heard.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone that has helped us in creating such an awesome campaign. We have received a lot of support from the university administration and local business owners. Moreover, a large number of individuals have helped us with several crucial details. Without all this support, we would not have been able to reach as many people as we have so far. We are in the final stretch of the competition, and we will not slow down. We will finish with a flourish.