From February 22-24, ten members of our own Upper Mohawk Valley GenUN chapter took time away from their school’s spring break schedule to travel to New York City in order to attend the UNA-USA’s Global Engagement Summit. The summit was held in the General Assembly hall of the United Nations on February 23, 2018. According to the UNA-USA, the Global Engagement Summit was planned to allow “UN advocates to participate in a day of dynamic and informative discussions on the most pressing issues facing the United Nations. This event unites world leaders with our nation’s top grassroots change-makers.” (1)
Among the ten students who attended, several schools from across Central New York were represented, including Clinton, Whitesboro, Proctor, Baldwinsville, and Manlius-Pebble Hill high schools. The trip was organized and chaperoned by our Vice President, Greg Smith, who also organizes our annual Model UN conference. New member, Andrea Stabak, also attended as a chaperone.
At the Global Engagement Summit, we had the opportunity to attend in four breakout sessions. Each breakout session will had an option to become more informed on a specific topic OR learn how to become more active on a particular issue. All sessions were organized around panel discussions that featured experts in their particular fields followed by a Question and Answer period with the audience. The topics/issues on which the sessions were organized included: Climate Change, Advocacy through the Arts, Peace and Security, Taking Action on the Global Goals, Private Sector’s Role in Achieving the Global Goals, Stand Up for Human Rights, The Refugee Crisis, and Using Technology for Social Good.
The UNA-USA used the Global Engagement Summit as an opportunity to remind those in attendance of their standard social media hashtag #USAforUN that conveys support for the United Nations by the United States.
Notably, the following were the dramatic highlights of the event:(2)
It was the largest-ever gathering of Americans showing up to support the United Nations at UN Headquarters.
UN leaders delivered powerful messages about the UN’s vital role in our world and how we can take action to stand with the United Nations.
Students from over 120 colleges and universities traveled to UN Headquarters in order to be a part of this historic moment.
We celebrated Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy and historic leadership with UNA-USA.
We kicked-off our celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Chef, TV personality, former refugee, and UNA-USA Adopt-A-Future champion Lidia Bastianich told us her story, and why she’s taking action to provide education to young refugees.
Cross-generational friendships were formed among attendees who connected on a common belief that our interests, values, and hopes for a better world can only be advanced through global engagement.
We gained a unique variety of insights on global issues from expert panelists, and came home with new ideas and objectives to create change that starts in our communities.
Our closing plenary ended on a high note: A young attendee asked Professor Jeffrey Sachs a powerful question that elicited a standing ovation in the General Assembly Hall.
Attendees sent over 1,400 messages in under 30 minutes to their Members of Congress.
Beginning with our upcoming newsletter, and extending over the next one to two newsletters, our readers will have the opportunity to learn about the experience of the students at the Global Engagement Summit via articles that the students have volunteered to write. We hope others will follow their lead as these students are taking action in support of the United Nations and looking to spread that support across our Upper Mohawk Valley community.
1. Hopkins, Sarah. "2018 Global Engagement Summit." United Nations Association of the USA. Accessed January 28, 2018. http://www.unausa.org/membership/una-usa-events/2018-global-engagement-summit.
2. "10 Powerful Moments from the 2018 Global Engagement Summit." United Nations Association of the USA. Accessed March 18, 2018. http://www.unausa.org/news-publications/article/10-powerful-moments-from-the-2018-global-engagement-summit.