A Lesson on Courage: My Time as the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN

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Tiffany Taylor was the 2013-2014 U.S. Youth Observer to the UN. Applications for the 2016-2017 U.S. Youth Observer will be accepted until May 30, 2016.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” -J.K. Rowling

My time as the United States Youth Observer to the United Nations was the most important year of my life; it taught me the importance of possessing true courage.Growing up I automatically associated having courage with the ability to stand up to strangers who were mean, unkind, sexist, or racist. However, through my time as the Youth Observer, I came to realize that it is often easy to tell someone you do not know how much you disagree with them. Most of us don’t lack the courage to stand up to strangers, we lack the courage to stand up to our friends and family; those that are closest to us and make up our social circle. Yet, no real public service initiative can positively move forward unless we conquer the fear of upsetting those closest to us.

One of my most memorable experiences was attending the 8th Biannual UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, France. I met delegates from all over the world. I listened to their stories in depth and learned about their work advancing the mission of the United Nations for peace and prosperity amongst all nations within their own communities.

Courage was something all the young leaders had in common. Many times, these young leaders had to go against their social norm in order to create effective change.

For example, one of the delegates I spoke to was inspired to write a play concerning race relations because she wanted her  to encourage her father via theatre to be more open minded towards people of different religions and races. She courageously used this play as a way of standing up to her father to showcase that love towards all religions and races is better than hate. Fortunately, she told me he ended up loving the play and realized that he needed to make some positive changes.

It is not always easy to do what is right, just, fair, and kind. To better one’s self and the lives of others not only takes passion, determination, and a strong work ethic, it takes a lot of courage. People who do the right thing, the kind thing, are not always reworded, yet they do it anyways. Sometimes these people are even shamed or ostracized from their communities, yet they have the courage day in and day out to keep fighting for what they believe in.

Now that my time as the Youth Observer is over, I hope to pursue a career that will make a positive difference in the lives of others. Although I am unsure of where my life will lead, I know I plan to live my life courageously.

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