The United Nations Student Leadership Conference

Article by: Mae Kirkpatrick

The love for service and concern in world wide issues are widely shared interests among ISM Students, so it’s no surprise that students have taken the initiative to do more past the boundaries of ISM. Earlier in February, the United Nations Student Leadership Conference on Development was held, collaborating with an organisation in the Philippines called I am SAM. This conference was a video conference that lasted for 8 hours, involving participants from the United States, Philippines, Pakistan, India, Mexico and the United Nations Headquarters. Throughout the 8 hour period, different guest speakers from organisations such as UNICEF gave speeches. Following this, students were split into groups and resolutions were created to advocate for different ways to improve a variety of issues, such as Environmental Sustainability, Food Security, Education for all and Human Rights and Development. ISM Student Ji Young Kim took part in the conference, working with other students from the Philippines in creating a resolution on the issue of the lack of education.

In 2000, the United Nations created eight Millennium Development goals to be achieved by 2015. As the end of this year marks this deadline, new resolutions are needed to be created; therefore, all the resolutions students created in the conference will be sent to the UN as reference for the new United Nations development goals. Hence, not only does this program challenge students to collaborate and tackle some of the largest issues faced today, but it also allows for the younger generation to communicate their own ideas and solutions to the United Nations.

But how effective really was the conference in challenging students? Ji Young felt that, “[she] was able to meet many intelligent Filipino students and also learn so much from them. It was a team work/self research project so [she] also gained leadership skills and collaboration skills.” Along with this, she also stated “it was interesting to see the ideas that [students in other countries] came up with for the same topics because of their different circumstances. For example, Pakistan said that gender inequality is very common, and that in their culture, parents won’t let women study or have a job, but for us it’s very common. It’s really their culture so we can’t interfere, but we need to change the perspective.”

Despite having the conference end, the experience still continues for Ji Young. A selected group of around five students were chosen to bring these newly created resolutions to the UN, therefore, next year Ji Young will have the opportunity to fly to the United States to present the resolutions in the United Nations Headquarters and attend the conference in person.