INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY FORUM 2009
STUDENTS FROM KENYA HIGH SCHOOL SHARE THEIR NEW YORK EXPERIENCE
AFRICANA NJERI WANJIRU,16 YEARS
It was a very long flight.Thirteen hours in the air is not a
joke. The thought of coming to America…mmh…it made me get bees in
my stomach not butterflies.Why? I was nervous, excited, anxious…all
the words to describe the feeling kept contrasting like stings from
I would reach a point and ask myself,”Afrikana, what are you
doing? What are you going to do in New York? Will whatever you do
there have any impact on you or anyone else?Yes?”
The only answer that came was,”Sit back and put your seat belt
on, the driver knows what He’s doing.” God knew what He wanted to do
in me.I always tell my friends that ‘your life is like a road. With
your headlights, however much you struggle, you can only see 2 meters
ahead, not more.. Whatever lies beyond is a mystery. Only God knows
and that’s why I trust Him. It’s my faith.
When we arrived, the first thing that hit me was the….COLD!
My face felt like cold glass that even a slight twitch could shatter
and my fingers like ice sticks that could break anytime. Advice; The
next time you are given a warning, overestimate it, don’t
The people here were very warm and friendly. I was the
youngest member present and have always wished to have an older sister
or brother so I felt privileged. There was Ms Genevieve K’opiyo, my
teacher, and Stephanie Gikonyo, my schoolmate. They accompanied me
here and we were experiencing everything together as a family; the
subways, the streets with fast pacing people and the beautiful sites.
There was Ms Irene Nyambura, the Regional Director of Africa.
She always made sure that we were comfortable. She was a blessing and
I can find no perfect words to express my gratitude.
Ms Mary Halpine,President of WYA Int. went through thick
and thin with the other officials to ensure that we were comfortable
especially in terms of accommodation. We were overwhelmed by her
hospitality. I was personally inspired by her ever graceful spirit that
unified us. In times of arguments, she always, somehow, found a way
out that we would agree to.
I cannot forget Ms Rebecca Ousten, Director of Advocacy.I was
deeply intrigued by her wealth of knowledge and her ability to
articulate wisely what was on her mind.
To the main thing ; the ISF. Being the youngest member, I did
struggle to fit in at first. Eventually, it became easy negotiating
the language. We would propose,argue then after voting reach a
I really appreciating the lectures given to us by the
speakers; Julie Owen, Mr David Thunder(PhD),Prof. Habib Malik, Paolo
Carozza, Ambassador Davide of The Phillipines among others. That and
the negotiations helped me to percieve the human person in a new
The human person has inherent and intrinsic dignity that
is the foundation of human rights. This dignity cannot be changed by
circumstances, stage of development nor talents. A slave has no less
dignity to that of his or her master and the modern man is not of
greater worth than the prehistoric man.We are all equal. We have the
capacity to reason, for intelligence and love. Just because an unborn
baby cannot show love or reason doesn’t mean that they are lesser
human beings.They have the capacity to one day. They have dignity too.
I personaly came to a point to say that; ‘DIGNITY is not
MEASURABLE like time, space and love. It is ever CONSTANT.’
I also came to understand that we often place all the blame on
governmental institutions for the violations of human rights.Yes it is
the duty of the international and national law and policy making
bodies to enact law and policy that promote the flourishing of human
rights but wwe shouldn’t forget that we also have responsibility. We
should respect other people’s rights too when practising ours
expecting nothing in return. The change should start with you then
slowly in solidarity we shall have a prosperous people who respect one
another, comprehend that they have dignity and are firmly rooted in
My experience in America has changed the way I view people.
I have been able to meet people of different backgrounds and attitudes
and have learnt to understand and tolerate them. One thing that I know
I have to practise, that others find hard to do, is co-existing with
others.Understand people first before judging them. Understand your
environment too and respect it. CO-EXIST WITH OTHER SPECIES ON THE
Another thing that we ought to remember is where we are
from.When you go for conferences or anywhere else, remember what you
have left behind. Remember what has made you go there. Remember who
you speak for. This is something that many especially some politicians
and diplomats forget. There is a common saying that goes; ‘Know where
you are coming from to know where you are going.’
I am a Kenyan youth who has dignity and I shall stand for
all that is right and true.I shall struggle with others in SOLIDARITY
to uphold the TRUTH. That is what I now know about myself.