So if you made it here, that means you’ve seen my previous post where I dropped tips for holidaying abroad and JICYMI you can catch-up up here.
This is the first installment for my summer 2017 and I’ll be sharing with you what my first half of summer was like and how it went down.
Summer 2017 was all about action for me. I was/ am done with the ‘I wish I could’ and the ‘I want to’ phases of life (bye procrastination 🙋🏽) and I’m now invested in the ‘I’ve done’ and the ‘I’m doing’ phase so I can say 2017 has been good to me.
Interested in how it went down? Keep reading 😉
I attended the Youth Assembly at the United Nations (UN) this summer as a delegate for Nigeria 🇳🇬 and that was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself this year.
The Youth Assembly (YA) is a unique platform for fostering dialogue and generating partnerships between exceptional youth, civil society, the private sector, and the United Nations that was made possible by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation (FAF). It takes place twice a year; the summer and winter edition and has been going on for 15 years. I attended the 20th edition and it was one that included some firsts in the history of the YA. You can either attend as a Delegate (usually if you fall within the requirement) or as an Observer.
The theme of this year’s summer edition was: #SocietyForAll: Equity and Inclusion for a Sustainable Future. A few of you (real Uyai clan) might have noticed my social media posts bore that hashtag during my stay. A society for all made us look at problems of exclusion and inequalities mostly and bring out practical and feasible solutions for these problems.
The program Summary as gotten from the official YA page:
The 20th session of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations presents both an enormous opportunity and a challenge to stimulate and ensure youth engagement and participation in achieving an inclusive and sustainable future where no one is left behind.
Guided by the overarching principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, “leaving no one behind,” the conference will explore cross-cutting issues and solutions for sustainable development in the social, economic, and environmental dimensions. While youth are among those subjected to exclusion and marginalization, they have the potential to accelerate and achieve sustainable development in their communities and beyond. With their unique sets of skills and perspectives in today’s ever-evolving world, they remain at the front lines of innovation and change.
I attended under the Academic Delegate package which spanned from the 5th of August till the 12th. Basically there are various delegate packages from Premier to Academic to Core to Metropolitan. The package I signed up for allowed me the opportunity to have classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham Campus, New Jersey (FDU) on the Social Venture for Sustainable Development.
A copy of the itinerary can be seen here.
These classes gave me the knowledge on the basics needed when starting any business and how to make that businesses directly translate into social impact. I’m all for social impact so you can imagine how seriously I took my classes. (apologies to all the people who felt I was putting them on p, I was literally busy)
But something I must commend the FAF for was fitting outdoor activities and giving us the chance to mingle.
At FDU, I met up with my team (finally) that I was assigned to and had only prior to resumption, communicated via zoom (an app that functions like Skype but I guess more easily available to host conference calls with real-time/ almost real time relay).
At Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham Campus, we had a whole lot of activities and hardly any ‘me/us’ time. We literally went from one even to another from classes/sessions back to back all day to group meetings to work on building a presentation for the Social Venture for Sustainable Development Challenge that would be presented after an intense 3 days of learning. We also had networking time where we would interact with the others.
I remember barely having up to 12 hours of sleep in those three days and almost feeling worn out because we had to work round the clock. It was supposedly summer but trust me when I say the place had a chill to it (I guess Nigeria’s warmth was I expected). After
My team devised a solution to FGM through empowerment by job creation and skill acquisition as well as community (quite a tall order I know) and we worked tirelessly, and we all know tired people get cranky and two or more cranky people in a group would cause issues. This eventually happened and some of my team members had a face off (talk about drama and the kitchen staff enjoyed each minute of it). Well in a way it was therapeutic because that let off all of the pent-up frustration and feeling that had been bottled for way too long. We went on to presentation feeling calm, and killed it and ended up winning the Social Venture for Sustainable Development Challenge and also got our very first donation to our cause.
So that was the end of that and we had to pack up and head out to New York to attend the Youth Assembly. That on its own was an entirely different experience and I doubt if words will be able to fully describe the experience but I’ll try.
The United Nations was breathtaking and intimidating all at once. It also gave a new meaning to the word integration.
The very first day included a tour of the United Nations Secretariat building. We had a very friendly tour guide who didn’t mind answering all our numerous questions (and boy did we have questions). We were given time to take pictures (read as I ended up playing photographer throughout).
The Youth Assembly had panels that ran every day all round and different conference rooms. But I kept track of this by using the convene app. I can swear by this app, it had each and every panel, time and the location up at each time and with real-time update too.
I also got to visit the Australian mission and sit in with the ambassador. By this time during this trip, I missed Anna (my photographer) as she seems to be one of the people who can get shots of me not looking tired.
We visited Times Square for a photo contest event even though we didn’t partake in it. We just touristed and took photos till we got tired and headed home.
We went on a boat cruise for a dinner one of the nights and partied in front of the statue of liberty.
We ended the Youth Assembly with a cultural appreciation gala followed by dinner at Hard Rock Cafe and my friends and I went wandering the streets on NY to enjoy the night life.
The next day we trooped over to a national park as volunteers to clean up the beach and trail and we got certificates and had a pizza party.
Immediately we got back to Pace University and checked out officially and that was the end of the YA trip for me. Those who were signed up for the Premiere and Core packages boarded the buses and headed on to Washington DC while I requested a lyft and headed on to the second part of my Summer.
Highlights of my YA Experience
- Meeting my people; Frances, Sekou, Tabitha, Vida and Shermin. You guys are awesome!
- The classes, though they were brain shaking, I enjoyed every single moment. No knowledge was wasted and the professors knew what they were talking about.
- Late night pizza parties with my team in attempt to keep the brain fueled. Thank God for deliveries.
- Fun events that involved networking
- My awesome roommate, Rachel!
- Walks to lunch in cute diners even when one of the servers spilled cold water all over me.
For those who have messaged me a number of times (I’m sorry it took this long) asking how I got in and have shown interest in attending the YA, I did it in these steps;
- Have a genuine interest in what the Youth Assembly is all about.
- Go to the youth assembly website. You get to see real time updates and get firsthand information.
- Subscribe to the mailing list so you get alerts as soon as they are sent out and ensure you check your emails regularly.
- Once you get the mail concerning the YA, you read through the criteria for applying.
- Ask yourself if you are really interested in the YA before you apply.
- Apply if you’re certain and cross your fingers that you’re selected.
I hope these steps will help you (if you are interested) to also attending. If you’re in need of extra assistance or have any questions, feel free to drop a comment and I’ll get back to you.