INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY FORUM 2009

KENYA STUDENTS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES

STEPHANIE WAMBUI, 17 YEARS

My name is Stephanie Wambui and I am a proud member of the African continent and citizen of The Republic of Kenya. People talk about experiences.. others talk about how they have been positively influenced, but i would like to talk about the transforming experience of the International Solidarity Forum. Kenyan weather is generally pleasant as it is warm and sunny for mostof the year. Ideally, when the plane touched down at JFK, the warm and sunny feeling was quickly replaced by what I would describe as extremely cold weather.

Without time wasting, me and my colleagues, Africana and escorting teacher Miss Kopiyo, quickly put on our jackets and other warm clothing. We were soon informed by the Regional Director for Africa, Miss Irene Nyambura Mwangi, who came to pick us up from the airport, that this was going to be the norm but that in due course we would adapt. The World Youth Alliance is a United Nations accredited orginzation and because of this, it has the permit to conduct its ISF meetings at one of the delegated conference rooms at the UN Headquarters in New York. At this juncture I would like to commend on the econimism of the WYA because for the three days that the conference was held at the UN, we would walk to and fro, as a group, instead of taking the occassional two-dollar-bus which would be a great amount of expense.With The WYA Africa Director of Operations, Hezbon Mogambi and my new friends from Mexico

In Kenya, cocktails for the youth are rare or even close to none as they are not considered an expense and not part of the curriculum. Thus my first experience was at the WYA house during the ISF evening cocktail which was formal yet to the point. The invited speaker came from the Mission of St. Lucia of whom i got a chance to speak to. Her talk was advocative as she found it very powerful that young people from all the world had come together to draft a declaration on the theme of this year’s ISF, which was THE PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FOUNADATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEMS, one that would declare WYA’s stand on the matter at hand.The German mission was present as well with a couple of German youth, as well as students from the New Mexican state and the Italian misson.

The cocktail generally was wonderful .Then there was work.The drafting, which constituted mostly the negotiations, was according to me the most intense times of the conference as there were heated debates and though there was not enough time to finish according to the time allocated, a draft committee was set up by the president of WYA, Miss Mary Halphine, with all the continents representred to prevent bias. I was fortunate to be a member of the committe as well as my colleague Africana, who made an outstanding contribution all through.

To conclude, I would first like to thank our Regional Director for Africa, Miss Irene Nyambura, for her consistent help, through the filling in of the visa to making sure we had accommodation and everything required for our survival in New York. I would like to also thank the president of WYA and her staff for inviting us and also their consistent concern over our welfare and allowing us to use their various facilities. To my parents this would not have been possible without their input and support. Last but not least, I would also like to thank our escorting teacher, Miss Genevive Kopiyo, for her complete and total input in terms of her responsibility over us. To the youth of africa and the whole world in general I would advocate that they join the alliance so that they can build on their leadership skills, build on the culture of life and build on their advocacy skills and work. Three cheers to the World Youth Alliance and its future members.