The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Lessons for Future Advocacy

Makisa Bronson '20 provides an introduction to the conference's mission and explains to students about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The lessons that the 2017 UN Winter Youth Assembly offered me were truly remarkable. Never before have I been in the presence of so many passionate, motivated peers from around the world who have already begun to impact tangible change in their communities.

This year, the Youth Assembly’s theme was “Realizing the 2030 Agenda: Youth in Action,” with a specific focus on education, eradicating poverty, and responsible consumption and production. Through panel discussions, group dialogue sessions, and mingling with the other delegates, I learned that many of us share a similar narrative-- we notice issues that are present in our communities, take action to ameliorate these problems, and remain impatiently optimistic about the future while working to create tangible change. I met many delegates who, like me, wanted to impact some sort of large-scale, positive change but to some extent were unsure of where to begin. I met others who are already making impressive strides in improving their communities and serving as global leaders. Before the Youth Assembly’s opening ceremony alone, I was lucky enough to meet a polyglot in their senior year of high school, proficient in English, Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, and countless other languages, and a postgraduate student from Saudi Arabia who had published a research paper on critical issues existing within their country. This merely scratches the surface in terms of just how multi-talented and knowledgeable my fellow delegates were. By interacting with these delegates and numerous others, it quickly became clear to me that despite the attendees’ differences in nationality, mother tongue, and age, we were far more similar than we were different. Our penchant for leadership and engaging wholeheartedly with the world around us brought us together and provided this opportunity to discuss critical issues that our generation must address.

Similar to the variety of incredible people I met even before the conference began, I found the winners of the Youth Assembly’s Resolution Social Venture Challenge to be particularly inspiring. One of the winners, my friend Aaron Lit--a Dartmouth ‘19-- received lifelong mentorship and $2000 in funding for his startup Chromodoris, an ecofriendly fashion line inspired by the patterns and vibrant colors of marine species. He plans to use mainly sustainable fabrics and materials for his pieces and intends to dedicate a percentage of his revenue to marine wildlife preservation, a cause about which he is very passionate. Aaron’s fellow awardees were just as remarkable--they had all started social endeavors that aimed to improve their local and international communities. Simply listening to them speak about their motivation for founding their initiatives prompted me to begin thinking of out-of-the-box ways in which I can impact change in my community.

I found attending the UN Winter Youth Assembly to be an extremely valuable experience. Attending the Youth Assembly as a delegate showed me the importance of international collaboration and friendship in achieving common goals. This experience served as a catalyst in inspiring me to think more critically about my role in achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda. The bonds that I created with my fellow delegates, the very sensation of standing inside the renowned General Assembly hall for the first time, and my feeling of renewed motivation that stemmed from attending the conference will remain with me for a lifetime. It was an honor to attend the 2017 Youth Assembly and to act alongside other youth leaders as an agent for change. I hope to sustain this momentum via continued advocacy, social entrepreneurship, and activism during my time at Dartmouth and beyond.

- Submitted by Makisa Bronson '20, Rockefeller Mini-Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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