As recent events unfolded in the Middle East and across the globe, it gave me pause to think about the thousands of citizens who serve our country in the Foreign Service at home and abroad. These individuals play a vital role in the diplomacy efforts of the United States, yet their contributions go largely unnoticed and unrecognized…unless something extraordinary, or in this month’s instance tragic, happens. The loss of American life is always a reminder of the unwritten belief most Foreign Service personnel believe in – we must engage the world to solve global problems.
At the United Nations, many Americans serve in civil and appointed positions to advance the work of multilateral diplomacy. As students plug into world events – literally – at younger ages, a new wave of aspiring diplomats is cultivated. At home, groups like the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), which supports and represents more than 28,000 Foreign Service employees and the Peace Corps, which has sent more than 210,000 volunteers to 139 host countries since its founding in 1960, provide a career path for individuals passionate about working globally, and a network of peers to work with as they plot their professional direction.
Now, a new generation is ready to serve. UNA-USA saw the eagerness and determination of the next generation of global thinkers and doers as we collected applications for the first-ever U.S. Youth Observer at the United Nations. They are enthusiastic, smart, articulate, passionate, persuasive, purposeful, knowledgeable, hopeful, idealistic, and definitely ready. More than 730 individuals from 47 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico applied to be the Youth Observer. This is a stunning number considering the application process was open for merely 14 days.
U.S. Youth Observer Brooke Loughrin speaks on the “Mobilizing Young People For The Next Generation of Social Good” panel at the Social Good Summit. (Photo Credit: Keith Bedford/Insider Images for United Nations Foundation)
The perspectives of the applicants provided an optimistic look at the future. Here are some of the topics they thought the U.S. Mission to the UN should take on together with their global partners: water scarcity; food security; human trafficking; education; unemployment; climate change; peace and security; human rights; global health; access to technology; poverty; and youth engagement – to name a few.
We want to engage and empower the voice of young people in the U.S. This is Generation UN, or as we call it at UNA-USA, GenUN. This is the generation that will go beyond face to face, and tweet, blog, Skype, and Google its way toward more global interaction.
In the end, only one person could be selected as the U.S. Youth Observer and we were pleased to announce Brooke Loughrin from Boston College. She is a junior in the Presidential Scholars Program at Boston College where she studies Political Science and Islamic Civilizations and Societies. Continue to stay tuned for what Brooke will report via our website, Twitter, and Facebook. There will be moments where you can engage directly with her and share with her the issues that matter to young people across the United States.
Gandhi’s oft-repeated phrase, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is a creed for GenUN. The first-ever Youth Observer is ready to be the voice of young people across the United States at the UN.