Developing a Global Voice

2016 Summer Interns at the UN

Photo courtesy of MaryGrace Levis

The plastic badge around my neck gently clanked against the buttons of my blazer with each hurried step I took in a rhythm that matched the fast tempo of my heartbeat. Within the span of a few minutes, I witnessed several different languages being spoken as I weaved in and out of foreign diplomats, ambassadors, and other important-looking people donning suits and briefcases. I paused for a moment to read a sign that read “General Assembly: Intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council Reform,” realizing that I would likely be reading a news article about what was discussed in this room in a few days. So this is where it all happens, I thought to myself.

For years I had dreamed of someday having a job that allowed me to advocate for the youth of the world within the United Nations. This dream was now a reality, as I was preparing to attend the Holy See Mission’s Conference on the Importance of Motherhood and Fatherhood for Integral Development in honor of the UN Global Day of Parents as part of my internship with World Youth Alliance North America. This conference reiterated a truth that I deeply believe in and have found a way to concretely support in everyday life: that “the authentic development of society can occur only in a culture that fosters integral human development – characterized by physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional growth, in a climate of respect for the human person and the family” (World Youth Alliance Charter). Being involved with WYA has greatly deepened my understanding of this truth and its implications, and it has also given me an avenue to promote this kind of development within the society in which I live.

I have noticed that concepts such as human and societal development are generally discussed quite loftily though, making it difficult for me to feel like I am doing something to contribute to these issues in a positive way rather than just thinking about them. Awareness and conversation are extremely important, but as someone who feels called to advocacy, I have a deep desire to see changes, no matter how small, as a result of these discussions. Through my work with WYA, I have realized that there are a few basic steps to changing the world, little by little.

  1. Educate yourself. When was the last time you read an author that contributed to your understanding of the human person and the development of society? When you cultivate a greater understanding of the universal truths of human dignity and freedom, you see them at play in life more often and begin to feel more confident thinking critically about things you read in the news, learn in school, and hear from your friends. WYA’s Certified Training Program and book list are great places to start!
  2. Engage yourself. WYA North America recently hosted its first Drinks + Discussion night of the summer, an event that explored the facts about reproductive health and allowed a forum for young adults to exchange ideas and ask questions. Being challenged to articulate your opinions and ideas causes you to more deeply engage with the subject matter, and I find that doing so with friends or peers often helps me see from a different perspective and leaves me feeling inspired and motivated to make a difference.
  3. Change yourself. There is a reason that Gandhi’s quote about being the change you want to see in the world is referenced so often. While issues such as immigration, abortion, and lack of education stretch across the globe, the solutions begin with each individual person. Thirty dollars a month (the price of 3-4 Chipotle burritos) can pay the school tuition for a child in a third world country, allowing him to someday get a job that finally gets his family out of poverty. Congratulating a woman on her unplanned pregnancy and offering to take her out to coffee will let her know that she has the support of someone who cares in a scary and stressful time and can give her the hope and courage to choose life. Learning how to say, “Have a good day!” in Spanish (with a smile!) can affirm and encourage a hotel maid or landscaper who does not yet know English.

That child from Colombia, that woman who chose life for her child, and that person who immigrated to the United States are the reasons that I want to be a voice in the United Nations and a voice for WYA. Each of them have intrinsic dignity that must be recognized, but we must first teach them to recognize it in themselves in order to create a culture that respects universal human dignity.

Written by Annamica Reding, a Batch 2 – 2016 regional intern at World Youth Alliance North America.