International Youth Day at The United Nations
With a boundless supply of ideas from adults regarding the
education and future of youth, it’s not often that voices
of young people are heard in a public, powerful forum. The
gala opening of the photographic exhibit at International Youth
Day at the UN, “Chasing the Dream,” focused on
eight students from around the world who shared their innermost
feelings via photographs and writings. Each faced a crisis
but had hope for the future. The exhibit monumentally accomplished
its goal, showing that young adults can positively impact the
world. Equality in education and the elimination of poverty,
were two important themes of the day.
Diego Goldberg, the photographer who wandered from continent
to continent and snapped the moving photos in a record two
months, stopped to chat with us.
The students performing in celebration of Youth Day needed
no motivation; highlighting the beauty of cultures throughout
the world, they performed dances from Africa, China, and South
America with professionalism and energy. Johan Scholvinck,
Director of the UN Division for Social Policy and Development
urged youth to take the opportunity to “build momentum
for the events to take place at an upcoming meeting of the
UN General Assembly” where millennium goals achievement
will be reviewed.
A performance group called Urban Word Poet addressed the issue
of HIV, dramatizing an incident of an HIV positive teenager
wrought with guilt over not having confided in a friend—recently
diagnosed with HIV—about her own HIV status. The group
presented a cautionary tale, but also a story of the strength
and support friends can provide.
The issues of universal education and equality of education
was discussed by a student from New York who pointed out the
disadvantages faced by students attending zoned public schools
which have a shortage of textbooks and even teachers.
On a global scale, nations such as Sudan face severe educational
limitations, as explained by a Sudanese citizen. For children
in Sudan, going to school is a luxury; many have to work to
help out their families. Equality in education for girls and
boys is a serious issue in many countries, such as Kenya where
women cannot attain an education without serious bargaining
before their community.
Among the stories in “Chasing the Dream” was that
of Jason, a 19 year old from Kingston Jamaica, who was diagnosed
with HIV at the age of 17. His initial reaction to the diagnosis
was to commit suicide, but the sharp words of the person who
stopped him—“any problems you have you can come
out of”—saved his life not just physically but
In the face of adversity, Jason decided to make the most of
his life. He considers the diagnosis a turning point in his
life and now is embarking on pursuing of his dreams of attaining
education in New York. Jason was present at the event.
Urideia, a 19-year-old of São Paulo, Brazil, related
to the audience the struggle she faced trying to make something
of her life as a resident of a favela (slum) in Northern Brazil.
She faced discrimination from schools based on her residence,
originally being offered a scholarship only to be rejected
once her place of residence became known. Urideia experienced
hopelessness but her involvement with Non-government agencies
(NGO’s) and later with the project called “Citizen
Cook” assures that she is working towards her dream of
attending college and opening a restaurant of her own.
During this year’s Youth Day young people on a global
scale drew attention to major concerns and hopefully the way
will continue to be paved toward fulfillment of millennium
goals, and turning dreams into realities.#