GenUN Fellow Blog: My Experience at Leadership Summit

Written by Mary McGee, GenUN Fellow for the Midwest Region

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Day 1: Saturday, June 10th

First stop: Global Goals Design Lab at the United Nations Foundation building!

Ari Eisenstat, Co Executive Director at UN Global Sustainability Index Institute, spoke about the best ways to create campaigns, non-profits, projects, pitches etc. that address the global goals. Afterwards, we broke out into groups to discuss how we could create a project that addressed the goal.

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I worked with a great group of change makers to create a plan that focused on engaging other organizations to get more people involved in working on the SDGs together. We made a loose plan where we would collaborate with other organizations to establish more resources for chapters to use.

After the Global Goals Design Lab, I headed to meet the rest of the GenUN fellows for dinner. I loved meeting the rest of the fellows and am so excited to work with them in the future!

Day 2: Sunday, June 11th

I woke up bright, early, and nervous for the talk about SDG 17, partnerships for the global goals I would be giving during the lunch lighting rounds My favorite part of the day was Hon. Teta Banks’ address during the breakfast plenary. It was beautifully written and so inspiring! After the breakfast plenary, I stayed in the auditorium to help facilitate a Chapter Effectiveness Round Table on volunteer engagement. I listened as the group discussed some of the challenges that they faced, which mostly circled around the same people volunteering or people not showing up on the day of the volunteering event.

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I suggested that they reach out to all of their members personally, and find out what issues matter most to them in order to find the proper volunteer opportunities that people would be the most interested in. I also suggested that chapters start looking into online volunteering for the United Nations, and you can learn more about that here.

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After the luncheon, I went to a Young Professionals Panel. I’m always looking to hear about how I can get further engaged as a young adult as well as hear about what others have done to establish themselves as professionals. The panel was very helpful and I loved all the questions that they addressed.

The next break out session I went to focused on the power of a story. Yashar Vasef, the President of the UNA-Portland Chapter, spoke earlier in the day about his story about coming to the United States as a refugee. As a young child, he didn’t realize the power of his story, and it’s something that he learned to embrace once he grew up. This break out session focused on some of the most impactful experiences that each of us had experienced. Yashar made sure that all of us left knowing that our stories are unique and that while pitching projects and ideas for creating change, it’s important to have that personal experience to add about why you’re motivated to create this change that you want to focus on.

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Day 3: Monday, June 12th

Today focused a lot on preparation for the next day’s advocacy work. I went to many different break out sessions that focused on the issues that are most critical, like the refugee crisis and education for girls. All of these phenomenal sessions got me so excited to meet with my Illinois senators and representatives the following day.

In the evening, all of us were invited to attend a reception at the House of Sweden. It was a great networking event for me to meet other adults and young professionals that are working hard to establish chapters!

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Day 4: Tuesday, June 13th

Today was advocacy day and the final day of the conference. We wore our UNA shirts and snapped a picture in front of the Capitol Building before we headed off to meeting with our senators and representatives.

The Southern Illinois Chapter got to meet with a staff members of Representative Mike Bost and Senator Dick Durbin. They were both very attentive and I feel confident that our message in support of the United States’ involvement in the United Nations was well received. Senator Durbin is a huge supporter of the United Nations, so I really enjoyed speaking with his staffer.

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All in all, I think the Leadership Summit was a fantastic opportunity for me to connect with other young adults and professions that were interested in the same things I was. There was so much energy for change making and it was inspirational to hear from others about their experiences and passions.

I am so excited to begin working as a Fellow to establish more chapters throughout the Midwest region, as well as create more resources for chapters to use! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit and grow as a speaker, leader, and advocate for change.

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