What do you do the day after submitting your Bachelor thesis? Just relax? Switch off your computer for several days? Go out and party?
Well, I did none of these things and this choice turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made. This is because that day, I found out about Many Languages One World, an essay contest organized by ELS and the United Nations Academic Impact. This contest invited students all over the world to submit an essay written in any of the official UN languages that is not their mother tongue, sharing their thoughts on the 70th anniversary of the UN and the Sustainable Development Agenda. (Find out more about it and read the winning essays as soon as they are posted here.)
Latest since my participation at FS Model United Nations, I have been passionate about the UN, I simply love to write, I care about the idea of sustainability – enough reasons for me to give it a go.
And while I still somehow cannot believe it, I was lucky enough to be selected as one of 70 winners (for 70 years UN) and invited to participate in the Global Youth Forum in New York City from July 20 to 26.
I got to meet people from more than 40 countries – many of them I had never met anybody from before. We were invited to discuss and share our ideas on sustainable development. Within my team – the English language group – we particularly focused on sustainable economic growth and the goal of decent work for all. Over dinner every evening, I could listen to so many different languages and different voices.
And finally, all of us got the chance to give a speech before the UN General Assembly. The organizers of the contest joked around, telling us this was only about to be our first speech before the GA, but seriously, I guess none of us had ever expected to be able to stand behind that podium, in that hall, on that great stage of international politics. Now that I did, I am really happy to have it on video (my speech starting around 2:50), for otherwise I might still not be fully convinced that this really happened. I was unbelievably nervous, very touched, honoured, and luckily pretty focused on my speech, so that after a few sentences I could really focus on our message: That our choices matter and that we need to make them in an informed and conscious way. So that we can leave behind mental barriers and biases that hinder us from realizing our full potential as individuals, countries and states, may they be related to age, gender or race.
Choices matter. This sentence was part of all speeches within my group and our Global Youth Forum really taught me that they do.
Some piece of advice? Keep your ears and eyes open – there might be another such contest next year or a totally different one for you to participate!
Some wise words to end this blog entry that capture my feelings right now? Sure, but I’ll borrow them from Miriam Adeney, because they simply get it all right: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”