The Theme of the 12th Youth Assembly at the United Nations was “On the Road to Actions: Moving Beyond the MDGs, post 2015”. The assembly focused on building youth leadership for the success of the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There were plenary sessions, workshops, round table discussions, UN Mission Visits, new Social Venture Competitions, MDG related skills building, campaign introductions and of course networking. Renowned speakers and experts including young leaders from around the world and executive staff of the UN facilitated workshops. Mrs. Omolola Omoteso, the Cares Global Network (CGN) Project Director helped tie everything in by providing the necessary briefing and debriefing before and after the assembly. Special events the Nigerian team had include a visit to the popular Time Square, Malls and the Statue of Liberty.
The YA @ the UN Report by Chidinma Imoko
The adventure started with a road trip from Maryland to New Jersey on Monday August 5. It was very tiring! Then arrived at Aunt Omolola’s house to a very warm reception. Next, I hit the bed like a pack of card!
I woke up on Tuesday 6th (Registration Day) to prayers with Aunty Nkechi, Aunty Omolola, Sammy, Marie, my sis Chioma & Timi. After prayer, was a briefing by Aunty Omolola about the forth coming conference, this got me excited because I haven’t been at such a conference before. I was looking forward to the exposure.
After breakfast, we set out to the City of New York for Registration at Pace University City Hall. It was quiet a journey! We got to go on the train @ the subway. It took a while for us to get there; when we finally did we were all excited. We had the “this is New York!” feel underneath the stress of New York sub way (or maybe I’m speaking for myself). We registered and headed back home. We made it home late, hungry and tired (Aunty Omolola had even gone to bed).
On the morning of Wednesday 7th, which was Day 1 of the YA, I was too tired to get out of bed! I had to; I wasn’t in New Jersey for a holiday. We managed to get out of the house the best time we could. By the way, conference time was 9:30am. So we arrived the UN, went through security check and joined the conference that had already started.
I got to hear UN officials such as Ahmad Alhendawi, UN special Envoy for Youth speak at a session titled Youth Leadership and Global Development in the 21st Century. Other speakers to speak in that session are Daniel Bena; Head, Global Sustainable Development, PepsiCo. Daniel Bena mentioned something in his speech that struck me. He mentioned that passion is the motivation toward a goal.
Later in the day, we got to watch the sneak preview of a major motion picture; titled Dancing in Jaffa, starring Pierre Dulaine. I’m not allowed to make any review of the movie. At the Q&A session, I got to ask the star a question that wasn’t quite answered.
After that we got to listen to young folks who have achieved different MDG’s in their various communities. They were truly inspiring stories… It was indeed a long day! We got home, took dinner, a rest and looked forward to the next day (or so I thought).
Thursday August 8th being the celebration of a Muslim holiday, the UN building wasn’t opened for the assembly. Also, on this day, groups were assigned to UN Missions. The CYPDC was assigned to the Mission of Turkey to the UN while CGN was assigned to the Mission of Denmark to the UN. While the CGN team made it out as early as 7.30am, we woke up late and began to prepare for the visit that was scheduled for 2pm. It was a struggle for us to get out of bed and out of the house, but we did eventually, phew!
We made it to the Mission of Turkey after finding out that the previous location had been changed. When we got there, we were told that the mission wasn’t open because of the Muslim holiday. We were not happy about that, but we were glad we were not found wanting from not attending the UN Mission. After that, the CYPDC team headed into New York City. We got home early this night, determined to make it out early for the assembly the next day… and this aim we achieved (at least).
August 9th being the last day of the assembly and we woke up determined to make the best of it. We got out of the house early, skipped breakfast just so we’ll make it in time. We got to the assembly fashionably early. Listened to the speech given from Gayatri Amatya, FAF Youth Fellow, Host to the H. E. Ambassador Palitha T. B Kohona then Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. Half way into her speech, my sister and I had to make a run to Port Authority where she forgot her phone when buying croissant. She found it; thank Jesus! We hurriedly made our way pack to the UN building, in time to listen to Morgan Wienberg’s truly inspiring story of her work in Haiti. It was truly the best MDG work I heard throughout the assembly. Then we attended a Nigerian project presentation by Greensprings High School students; the session was okay but I was bothered that their medium of raisign funds included selling pizza which is a snack that is only for the rich in Nigeria.
Other sessions that took place during the assembly include the Resolution Social Venture Challenge Awards. Then we had a closing remark by Patrick Sciarratta, Executive Director, YA @ UN. He left us with a parting word saying we should go out and do/ practice what we have gotten from the experience. Then we took group photographs and went home.
Staying with Aunty Omolola (Mrs. Omoteso-Famuyiwa) was a home away from home. Her home was very comfortable. Least I forget, she’s a good cook. I enjoyed her pancake and did let her know it was better than iHops!
Except for walking up the hill on Mrs. O’s street, transportation wasn’t a problem.
An important element of the YA @ UN is NETWORKING. I didn’t get to do that because there wasn’t a small group meeting. I’m comfortable in a small group of persons compared to a large group. Looking inwardly, I got to meet the following members of CYPDC and CGN:
Aunty Nkechi: CYPDC Coordinator. She is joyful at heart and in character. She gives motherly advises.
Aunty Omolola: CGN Coordinator and our Hostess. She is experienced with the activities of the UN and she is a coach.
Sammy: An undergraduate of Babcock University. Witty character who picks on his sister Maria.
Marie: An undergraduate of Bowen University. Shy, and had the habit of pulling me by the arm so I could tag along with her. Tells lots of funny stories.
Timilehin: An undergraduate of Afe Babalola University. Gentle spirited and had the most eagerness during the assembly.
Praise: A member of CGN and an undergraduate of Babcock University. She loves to chat.
It was really nice to meet these folks; I enjoyed every moment with them.