NSHSS member Claire Gupta is a high school senior from Chicago, Illinois, USA. Her favorite class in school is AP Comparative Government and, in addition to English, she is fluent in French. She does not know which college she will be attending, but she hopes to study international relations and human rights in college and to attend law school thereafter. She can’t decide whether she would like to be a Supreme Court Justice, an international human rights attorney, Secretary General of the United Nations, or perhaps all three.
I have been doing Model UN for four years now and have loved every minute of it. It has given me the opportunity to represent countries from Nigeria to Bahrain in United Nations simulations, and to move up the ranks in my high school’s Secretariat, a group that I honored to be Secretary General of this year. Although my experiences have been rewarding and have expanded my knowledge of and interest in international relations, I always felt like I wanted to do something more, something real, but I did not know how. Attending the Youth Assembly at the United Nations changed that.
Sitting in the General Assembly in a room with over 700 youth delegates from over 70 countries is powerful by itself. But it is what happened within those walls that was truly moving. We had the privilege of listening to countless speakers and panelists, from Simona Miculescu, our honorary chair, who is a Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN office in Belgrade, to Monique Coleman, a United Nations Youth Champion for the International Year of Youth. It was these passionate global citizens who opened my eyes to all the ways that youth like me can be a part of the United Nations and what it stands for. They helped me realize that, not only did I not have to wait any longer, but there is truly an endless amount of ways to be involved. And although our speakers varied in the programs they represented and the countries they came from, they all had one thing in common: their investment in my peers and me.
The speakers, however, were not the only inspiring people in the room. The youth delegates were perhaps the most inspiring of all. Whether it was small talk in the General Assembly or discussing world issues over dinner, I truly enjoyed engaging with each and every one of my peers. We all learned a lot from each other, and I can now say that I have friends from all over the world: from right here at home in the United States to Hong Kong, Norway, South Korea, Dubai, Pakistan, and many more. I think the effortless way in which we all connected and related to each other is very telling of the potential for our countries to interact in that same way in the future.
The Youth Assembly was truly life changing. It made me realize that my time is now. I do not have to wait until I am a certain age or have a specific degree to make change, and I do not have to do United Nations simulations anymore, because I can be a part of the real thing right now. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “we cannot build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future” and that is what the Youth Assembly at the United Nations truly does for its delegates. My time at the UN was life-changing, and the best part is, it is only the beginning.
The Youth Assembly at the United Nations (YA@UN) is a unique platform created by Friendship Ambassadors Foundation to foster dialogue and generate partnerships between exceptional youth, UN high officials and staff, private sector, and civil society. They are deeply committed to empowering youth to become active participants in the successful implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals and to making a shift in the mindset of the young leaders – from the “business as usual” approach towards a more responsible form of leadership