By Donya Nasser, U.S. Youth Observer to the UN
On January 13th, our Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power, addressed students at Seton Hall University as a sort of follow up to the President’s State of the Union speech. As one of only a few women who are currently serving on the UN’s Security Council, she is a role model for many of us and for a variety of reasons. Her words this past week resonated with me in a meaningful way in light of recent events and rhetoric.
Ambassador Power explained what truly made America strong, which are our values. She quoted the President when stating, “The world respects us not just for our arsenal, but our diversity, openness, and the way we respect all faiths.” When I think of our country, I think of freedom and tolerance as a foundation for beautiful differences in peoples, cultures, religions, and more. The refugee crisis has, however, served as a threat to what marks our country as a leader and change-maker. It is simply un-American to determine who should be admitted and who should be kept out on the basis of religion. There are in fact many religious minorities who have taken refuge in the United States and changed our nation for the better, Secretary Albright for example. Next time you turn on your iPhone, keep in mind that Steve Jobs’ father was indeed a Syrian refugee.
“The world respects us not just for our arsenal, but our diversity, openness, and the way we respect all faiths.” -Ambassador Power
The UN Refugee Agency has worked tirelessly to alleviate the effects of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to date. Providing food, shelter, and education to young refugee children are just some of the results of their efforts. However, this can’t be only the UN’s burden to bear. It is a global crisis that requires cooperation and sympathy from the international community. President Obama has echoed these sentiments, and Ambassador Power proudly stood firm behind his words because they embody the nature of our country and the values we advocate and fight for. Our generation, the youth of America and the world, have been applauded for our work and being outspoken against racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, etc. That is why Ambassador Power’s speech is important.
Our generation, the youth of America and the world, have been applauded for our work and being outspoken against racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, etc.
“America welcomes you. Our families welcome your families.” At the end of her speech, the Ambassador sent this message to the refugees in the crowd and to all those listening in. An immigrant herself, she emphasized the importance of everyone’s contributions towards a solution to this crisis, including those in the U.S. who have been reluctant to allow innocent refugees to enter. As a young Iranian-American and Muslim woman, I am touched by her words and actions. If it weren’t for passionate individuals like here, millions of Americans, including myself, would not be in this country or free to be ourselves, be that ethnically, religiously, or politically. Let us remember their efforts, and do our part in ensuring that others have the same chance at a free and peaceful life.