By Miranda Morton
Since last October, I have had the opportunity to attend weekly briefings at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. When I tell people that I’m a youth delegate at the UN, their eyes tend to widen, their jaws drop ever so slightly and they immediately want to know more. How did I apply for this position? What do I do when I’m there? Have I met any diplomats?
Usually the first thing I explain to people is that the Department of Public Information—the public voice of the UN that “promotes global awareness and greater understanding of the work of the UN”—most often hosts the briefings I attend. The DPI is an integrated network of member states, NGOs and civil society. Thanks to the work of Kelly Roberts, Fordham University became affiliated with the UN in 2012 as an NGO, thereby giving Fordham the ability to elect representatives to the DPI, including two youth representatives. Part of Fordham University’s very own mission statement is to prepare students “for leadership in a global society,” which is one of the reasons that Fordham was granted this status.
As one of Fordham’s designated youth representatives, it is in my job description to attend and participate in DPI briefings, keep up a professional blog outlining my experiences at the UN, bring Fordham students to the UN as visitors and, finally, to uphold the DPI’s mission by promoting knowledge of the UN’s undertakings within the Fordham community. The whole idea behind this nexus of organizations and dissemination of information is so that we, as global citizens, may become more united in our action towards bettering our world. Thus, I absolutely love it when people ask me about my internship because I get to tell them about the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals and the overall impact that this experience has had on me.
I will be forever grateful for what I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown over the past eight months. Though I like to think that I began this position as a well-informed member of civil society, there is little doubt that my tenure has made me a more knowledgeable and globally minded individual. Moreover, the UN has imparted me with a greater hope and a stronger desire to create localized change that will contribute to a social consciousness and ultimate prosperity. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned came from a speech given by Mike Eman, the Prime Minister of Aruba, at my very first briefing: Though “there is tension, war, anxiety and differences of opinion” throughout the world, there still exists a commitment to invest in what is best for all human beings. Sometimes it feels like there are so many problems and so much suffering in the world that there is no point in trying to instigate change. Yet the UN has introduced me to people and organizations that will never stop confronting the issues that face humanity. As I move on to the next chapter in my life, I will not forget this uplifting concept by Mr. Eman.
After winning a Boren Scholarship last month, I am set to embark on a 9-month study abroad adventure to Amman, Jordan this coming August. This scholarship is a federal initiative for undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages. However, my purpose of studying abroad is not only to improve my Arabic language skills, but also to integrate myself into a rich culture, to understand a new perspective and to investigate regional water policies and their effects on society. I hope one day to collaborate on potential solutions to this region’s water scarcity problem and to invest in infrastructure that would improve stability within the Middle East. I wholeheartedly believe that my experience as a youth delegate fostered these present goals and will continue to shape my outlook of the world.