What happens when you gather over 700 UNA-USA members at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC? Dynamic conversations that spanned across generations, ranging from the post-Paris leadership for climate change to the refugee crisis to the youth at the UN… and more!
In February, UNA-USA members and UN supporters met at the UN Headquarters to participate in Members' Day, a day of motivating and informative discussion on the most pressing issues facing the United Nations today. UNA-USA members gained exclusive access to the UN, where they heard from experts on topics like refugees and sustainable development and networked with community leaders, academics and students, and representatives from think tanks and like-minded organizations.
Throughout the day, I was able to hear from leaders and professionals who are experts in their fields. Distinguished speakers, ambassadors, and national staff members came out for the occasion to discuss global challenges and solutions. Out of all the panels, the one which left a lasting impression on me was the Youth Observer to the UN panel. Donya Nasser, the current 2015-2016 Youth Observer, asked a question throughout the session that still resonates in my mind: “If you won’t stand up for yourself or your cause, who will?” Donya talked to members about gender equality, in addition to providing opportunities and advancement for women to grow and succeed in leadership positions. She encouraged the 700 members present to take action and stand up for the issues they believe in.
Jackson Dougan, the 2014-2015 Youth Observer, was passionate in sharing his stance on LGBT issues and the social responsibility of millennials. Similar to Donya’s question, he asked, “If you’re the only gay man in the room, who's going to speak on behalf of the LGBT community [sic]?” The panel left the audience with the charge to acknowledge problems affecting the world and to find ways to solve them collaboratively. The past and present Youth Observers to the UN were committed to rallying chapters to take initiative on their campuses to educate and spread awareness for UN issues.
The goal of Members’ Day is to inspire members to return to their chapters and ignite change within their communities. At the end of each panel, members were asked to text a word to a number (i.e. text the word “refugee” to 55987) to connect themselves with their Senators and Representatives. By the end of the day, over 1,000 tweets, Facebook posts, and emails were sent to Members of Congress advocating for U.S. leadership at the UN.
Members’ Day created a space where individuals were able to come together as a group to share ideas, network, highlight chapter successes, take action through text, and be informed. Check back for updates for Members’ Day 2017 here and be sure to register next year!