Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  Contact Us
Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 147 | December 13 , 2009|


   News Room
   Photo Feature
   Funny Bones
   Book Review

   Star Campus     Home


IUBians of International Affairs
at the United Nations

Farha Khan

OUR journey towards the flabbergasting experience started right after our training workshop on “Leadership Development: Youth Empowerment & Activism” organized by the International Affairs Club of IUB. The International Affairs Club of IUB is the platform, which gives the opportunity to the Youth to take part in global academic seminars, intercultural workshops, social events and interpersonal exchanges. This time it was the Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations, NY.

Since 2004, the annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations has been recognized as a well respected, annual idea leadership event, focusing on youth led development related to the success of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. Its vision is to create substantive opportunities for increased youth involvement at and surrounding U.N. activities, commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, personal career development in civil society, and by extension the promotion of democratic values, international partnership, and a renewal of commitment to the United Nations as a vehicle for peace, diplomacy and human society.

Over the past five years, the initiative of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation and its partner, the International for a Cultural Institute of Peace, has grown into the premier youth event at the U.N's world headquarters in New York. Each year it brings together hundreds of young people from around the world who seek practical ways to contribute to the MDG'S, global networking and social entrepreneurship skills, as well as meeting with and contributing to civil society formally affiliated with the United Nations.

IUBians I, Farha Khan, Md. Touhidul Imran Chowdhury, Nafis Ahmed, Mariha Tahsin and Raisa Fareen Chowdhury were the only team members from Bangladesh who got selected to participate in this astounding learning experience. On Wednesday, August 5, 2009, we reached at the United Nations Lobby for our registration and I must say that the diversity of people made the conference look more interesting than anything. The huge building structure and the interesting architecture along with the paintings were incredible. The opening session started with a musical opening by Koshi, a young Japanese singer, who was blind yet the voice had so much power to touch our soul when he sang the song “Smile”. Dr. Elaine Valdov, Executive Director of the International Institute for a Cultural of Peace was present and a message was read by her, which was forwarded by the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. He made us comprehend a simple yet a strong message by saying “The world needs you to make the most of this gathering. We face multiple, interconnected crisis with severe impacts that fall disproportionately on the young.” After his message, Ambassador Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Deputy Representative of Finland to the UN and Devon Harris, Captain of Jamaica Bobsled Olympic Team motivated us by sharing their personal experience about how they started working for others and motivated them to come to the place where they are now. Later, Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director for Partnerships and Public Engagement in the United Nations Department of Public Information's Outreach Division added that the Millennium Development Goals is important in larger scale, he also mentioned that we have definitely seen people who are deprived and it is important for us not to abandon those children and their families. We should make them our inspiration to work more and we should never show that we are sad, rather we should move on.

Special workshops were arranged which included AID for AIDS: How much Do you know about HIV and AIDS, Roots and Shoots: The Power of Youth is Global, Grameeen America, Interfaith Youth Forum, Think Thank: Education and Youth Initiatives. Each and everyone had the opportunity to choose their own interest and each and everyone were scattered in different rooms for the next interactive session. The first common thing that we had in our mind right after we were done with the sessions was the fact that “Life is a process of constant pushing, if you want success, do not give up. Obstacles will always be there in life, where we will not have any control but what we have in control is how we deal with the obstacle.” In the AID for AIDS session, Jesus Aguais, Founder and Executive Director of AID FOR AIDS International shared his feeling by saying how he felt when he first changed one life. Like every other session, all of them inspired me to do something for the society by taking small steps from now, rather wait for someone else. The MDG success story from Africa was afterward shared by Spencer Chiimbwe, Executive Director of the United African Congress Founder and New York Center for Conflict Dialogue. The amazing start of the Annual Youth Assembly ended for that day with a special event which was a campaign night at the Church of the Holy Family Auditorium were everyone gathered and shared their cultural differences with the distinctive taste of American food. Besides learning about different MDG's, the UC Peace Festival Performance, a cultural dance program to promote cultural exchange through the arts was also arranged for us. We enormously enjoyed all the performances and then started our special session. The conferences topic this time was Sieera Club: Community Organizing Responses to Climate Change & Peak Oil by Dan Miner, Chair of Sierra Club, NYC, Pennies for Peace, a program of Central Asia Institute Building bridges of peace internationally- one penny at a time, Action Against Hunger, UNICEF: Unite for Climate, Keep a child alive and think Tank was arranged to give us an clear idea about the particular topic and give us the opportunity to raise our opinion. Time passed by and the day soon ended with a special event of Culture Night. It was the time when heterogeneous group of five Bangladeshi students went to the land of opportunities to personify the land of rivers with its unparallel cultural legacy and found the spirit of their existence and identity.

August 7, 2009 was the last day at the UN headquarters. It was depressing as it was time for me and the whole group to say good bye to our friends from Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Singapore and of course U.S.A. The last morning at the UN started with a Hip Hop MDG Campaign, then celebrating the International Youth Day. Though the day started with Nuts and Bolts of NGO Management, Development and Administration and the special workshop later the MDGs in Action was discussed. I could not wait for the closing ceremony as the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Arun Gandhi; Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi was there in between us. He was simple with words. He wanted us, the youth to know that we already have been alienated, the moment we were born. It is because of religion and race. He said that religion and race should not make any one get separate from one another rather we should all stay together and have a strong unity. Arun Gandhi graced the occasion and everyone appreciated his words. Later, Hou Bin, Paralympics Gold Medalist told about his tragedy experience and how he overcame all obstacles. It was unbelievable how a person with one foot could win Paralympics! It changed my thoughts, gave me confidence that yes, we should never give up in whichever condition we are in. His words motivated me and I could not believe my eyes. Is that reality? Probably yes. The smile that he had on his face after finishing the story is something I still have in my mind. The closing night ended with the promising words and the inspirational thoughts and the farewell dinner.

We traveled long distances across ocean and land, we who leaped high to find ourselves in the maybe comfortable but nevertheless challenging position of leadership vision was then true. The unique platform of the Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations compelled us altogether to find new answers to old questions and make a difference. International Affairs Club, Independent University Bangladesh made this possible, without the support this learning experience of the youth is incomplete.

(Student of Independent, University, Bangladesh)


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2009