Throughout the two days we attended the UN conference, we, as Sacred Heart students, further explored our curiosities and dreams to improve the world we live in. The conference was formatted into one-by-one seminars or panel discussions on various topics relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN. The variety of conversations allowed us to figure out which panels seemed more appealing to our specific interests and discover the issues in which we have a special interest. For example, because of Sacred Heart 91st St’s advancement in improving sustainability and sustainable practices in our school, the sustainability-focused one was the foremost seminar we were interested in attending.
While panelists were speaking, both about the topic and about themselves and how they got to this place in life, we took notes on not only their valuable contributions to the betterment of this world but also their advice for us, in our individual lives, to speak up, be proud, and advocate for what you believe in. In alignment with our Sacred Heart Goals, we asked questions to the panelists and conversed with other visitors because the people one interacts with are just as crucial to success as the information itself.
The highlight of our weekend was the “networking panel,” in which Hawa Diallo, the head of the conference, reversed the roles and put us as the panelists. We expressed our interest in achieving the SDGs and shared what we, as youth, are already doing in our communities to contribute to that achievement, for example, the Heart Saturday program in which several of us participate. Attendees in the audience asked us questions about our present and future, what we hope to accomplish and offered us opportunities to join youth-led efforts in areas of politics and activism.
During this weekend, we, both individually and collectively, were inspired by the initiative of the panelists to think of our own ideas. I was specifically motivated by a common thread that kept reoccurring, unity. Many kids in the city are trying their best to help out others in need in the same area, but there isn’t much communication between the youth in New York City for service-related activities. United we can effect more change and create easier opportunities for youth to join. An established youth service coalition would be immensely beneficial to young people, especially high school students, to come together, with a representative per school, and get to work. This greater network of organized, youth-led volunteers would thus create greater events with greater impact.
As Sacred Heart students, we strive to live out the goals and criteria every single day, and throughout the United Nations (UN) Conference, we have learned much more about the power we have as young women and young leaders to enact change in correspondence with the Sacred Heart Goals, Sustainable Development Goals, and to a large extent, our personal goals.