Do you ever wonder how youth can play a significant role at the United Nations? The answer is simple! By becoming a Youth NGO representative to the United Nations, one can expect a plethora of experiences, such as networking with high-ranking UN officials and opportunities to meet NGO representatives and other fellow youth representatives.
My experience as a Youth Delegate has not only allowed me to network with numerous important individuals, but furthermore, it has allowed me to put my academic expertise and skills to use. As a youth delegate, I represent Pathways to Peace (PTP), an international peacebuilding, educational, and consulting organization based in Larkspur, California. Often times the word “peace” can imply abstract and/or vague ideas, but Pathways to Peace conjures the notion of peace by focusing on eight specific paths, which include economic, educational, media and environmental freedom – all which facilitate a “culture of peace.” As a youth delegate, it is my responsibility to understand and believe in the mission statement of my organization, because it is that passion and commitment towards my organization which allows me to serve as a strong bridge between Pathways to Peace and the United Nations.
I attend weekly briefings hosted by the United Nations Department on Public Information. These briefings consist of panel discussions, and the main essence of this gathering is for the civil society to come together at the UN Headquarters and learn from the various experts within the panel. Personally, for me, this is the time where you attempt to represent your organization, and at the same time, meet other organizations’ leaders and find ways in which you can work together and spur joint programs and/or projects. In fact, in my opinion, the United Nations Department of Public Information hosts these briefings to create an international public arena for all NGOs to be able to collaboratively understand the sophisticated conflicts that exist among and within all member-states. The briefings have been so inspiring for me, and the entire experience as a youth delegate has made such a remarkable impact on me, that I decided to pursue another graduate degree in the field of human rights and international law, which I will be undertaking at Columbia University.
Besides representing Pathways to Peace at the UN DPI briefings, I was requested to attend a nuanced seminar on the importance of the “International Day of Peace” at the Kripalu Center in the Berkshire Mountains, north of New York City. However, this was no ordinary invitation for me because I was given the opportunity to drive the keynote speaker, Ambassador Chowdhury, a former Under-Secretary General and High Representative, to the seminar. That opportunity alone allowed me to learn about the Ambassador’s rich experiences at the United Nations, and take from it numerous lessons that will assist me during my future endeavors both at Columbia and onwards.
Currently, I joined a newly formed United Nations DPI NGO Youth group, which consists of all youth representatives, including some young UN interns. This group so far has been an important platform for me and many other youth representatives, because it is during these meetings that we exchange new ideas and suggestions. I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on my particular organization and the International Day of Peace. The presentation allowed me to promote my organization and request all youth representatives to assist Pathways to Peace and the United Nations in general, by participating in this year’s International Day of Peace on 21 September 2012. Another DPI Youth meeting consisted of a presentation from two Youth Representatives who attended the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During this presentation I was able to suggest all fellow Youth Delegates to start thinking about the various ways in which we all could localize the outcomes that came out of that conference. Essentially, I was interested in sparking a conversation about the “road back from Rio,” a dialogue that could include various local and regional projects, which would move the conference from a “discussion” to “action” phase.
So whether it is attending a briefing which can include individuals such as Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, or riding up to the Berkshires for a seminar with the former Under-Secretary General, Ambassador Chowdhury, the opportunities and the experiences that I have had as a youth delegate are priceless!
State University of New York
College of Old Westbury