Hi everyone!

As the 9th YA approaches, all of us are working hard to make this the best one yet.

Our offices in Greenwich, CT are a busy place to be right now– in addition to an incredible staff, nine interns from around the world have joined the team to help plan the Youth Assembly. Our diverse skills and backgrounds make for an exciting work environment. It isn’t uncommon to overhear our Chinese intern Lu Sha speaking Russian to our Finnish intern Natalia. On a typical day, India, Brazil, Ecuador, China, Cambodia, Trinidad, Finland, and the US are all represented at the office.

Each of us is focused on a different aspect of the project, and we look forward to your input prior to, during, and after the event.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

-Anna Borgogni, media relations

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The 8th Annual Youth Assembly: Building the Fire

Well, another YA has come and gone, and we’ve still got that glow that comes from seeing so many young people come from all over the world to talk about how to improve our planet. While the YA always puts some ‘logs on the fire’ in our desire to promote and accomplish the MDGs, there’s always the “what now?” question that follows for us, and for many of the delegates. We’d like to offer some ideas of how to keep that fire burning, and how to keep informed.

As various speakers discussed, the ubiquitousness of the internet is both a blessing and a curse to getting information these days. On one hand, there is information everywhere, and on the other, it’s hard to know where to start. One suggestion is starting where the YA was held; the UN. The UN has a great site with the status of each goal, and is updated fairly regularly. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/.

Another great new site is JUMO.com. It’s essentially the Facebook of causes, where you can find what you’re most interested in, and find out how to get involved. One of the most impressive and inspiring aspects of the YA is seeing how much interest there is in the most serious problems of the world. As we saw from the Do Something.org representatives, young people can, and are having a tremendous impact on the biggest, toughest problems of our generation.

We love to see the passion and excitement that the YA brings, but, like you, sometimes we get discouraged by the vastness and depth of problems that never seem to end. That’s why we suggest picking something you’re genuinely interested in, focusing on that, moving steadily, and not getting overwhelmed. The parable of the man and the starfish comes to mind. There once was a man walking along the beach, tossing stranded starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the ocean. Another man passed by and asked the man tossing the starfish “Why are you even bothering to do this? There are thousands of these starfish here. You can’t possibly throw them all back. What difference does it make?” The man smiled, picked up a starfish, tossed it back into the ocean and replied “It made a difference to him.”

This is how we need to approach the MDGs, and indeed, all of society’s problems. People will say that finding a solution is impossible and doomed to fail, but we must smile, continue, and do what we can. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. We hope you found inspiration, tools, and insights at the YA, and will continue, as we will, to toss those starfish back into the ocean.

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Gearing up for the YA

Here at FAF we’re gearing up for the Youth Assembly, and we bet you are too.  If you’re new to the assembly, you’re probably wondering what it’s like. Well, posted below is a YouTube video we made about the YA.  You’ll get a taste of what it’s like, and what to expect.  Also included is the flier we made about the YA just in case you missed it.  Looking forward to seeing you all there!

 

January 2011 YA

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The WE Campaign: uniting organizations working for global social change

By Daniel Bornstein, YA Delegate from New York and a soon-to-be freshman at Dartmouth College

The gathering of hundreds of youth at the UN Youth Assembly, all of them committed to addressing the Millennium Development Goals, represented a perfect example of the convergence of activists working on all kinds of global issues. That collaboration among global activists is precisely the vision of the WE Campaign (www.WE.net), an initiative that I’m involved in.

The WE Campaign–an initiative of an organization called We, The World–aims to build a global movement permanently committed to peace, justice, and sustainability. Right now, the international community seems only to be reactive to crises that arise–it has failed to build the muscle capable of preventing those crises in the first place. The permanent movement envisioned by the WE Campaign would be able to work on prevention of crises, not merely response to crises. Organizations all over the world can sign up as a partner of WE (no charge), which results in WE promoting those organizations. Promotion is carried out through newsletters, our Video Challenge, our Global Unity Calendar, and our WE Forum blog.

Currently the WE Campaign, which was launched at a New York City event on June 21, is involved in its Unity & Peace campaign, with the message being “Invest in Peace.” This theme suggests that resources need to be allocated toward such things as food security, water access, and nonviolent communication–not toward military buildup. The Unity & Peace campaign culminates in the 11 Days of Global Unity, which runs from September 11 to September 21 (the UN International Day of Peace). Launched in 2004 by We, The World, the 11 Days of Global Unity features hundreds of actions all across the globe.

I think one aspect of the WE Campaign particularly relevant to YA delegates is our Student Action Team. Given that 2010 marks both the 50th year of independence for 17 African nations and the African Union Year of Peace, this team has decided to focus on Africa issues; we will be making that a theme for the 11 Days of Global Unity, and we are considering hosting an event in New York City featuring Africa issues. An ultimate goal of this initiative is to connect American students with African students.

I, along with several other members of the WE Campaign team, recently appeared on the Peace Day Global Broadcast radio show (listen to the show here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/peaceportal/2010/07/22/peace-day-partnering). We spoke about the urgency for unity among social change organizations–an idea about which I grew so optimistic at the Youth Assembly, having met so many interesting young delegates.

I invite all YA delegates to sign up their organizations as a partner of the WE Campaign at http://www.WE.net

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For Africa, Education is the Key

By Daniel Bornstein, YA Delegate from New York and a soon-to-be freshman at Dartmouth College

I entered the UN Youth Assembly most passionate about environmental sustainability. Yet after speaking with delegates from several African nations and reading a huge poster of YA delegates’ creative ideas about improving global education, I’ve been inspired to pay more attention to education in Africa.

More than a few Post-It notes on the poster that I saw in the North Lawn Conference Building on Friday mentioned education in Africa, especially the rural parts.

Increasing educational access for the people of African nations will not only foster economic progress but, most important, create a permanent constituency of citizens who view corruption as unacceptable. The unfortunate reality in Africa now is that many heads of state face little public pressure to be honest leaders. As a YA delegate from the Democratic Republic of Congo told me, we need an educational system in Africa that produces a generation of people who truly understand the issues in their nations and who can thus hold their leaders accountable.

But an educated class well-informed of the dishonest conduct of certain governments poses a threat to the powerful elite–the so-called “strongmen” of Africa. That makes it all the more difficult to figure out who exactly should be taking the lead on the education issue in nations where corruption reigns. To me, such a situation is precisely where NGOs need to play a role–taking vital action when a political institution fails to do so.

Expanding education in Africa would give the youth a considerable amount of political clout. I met several YA delegates from The Gambia who are involved with youth organizations working with the government. These groups represent the stark reality that the youth are a vital part of African nations and thus should not be excluded from the political system.

The urgency that I sensed from YA delegates about education in Africa reminded me of an organization called Educate!, located in Uganda. Educate!, which is led by Amherst College alumni Eric Glustrom and Boris Bulayev, recruits the top students from its partner high schools in Uganda. The students, under the guidance of mentors, are placed in a rigorous curriculum. Ultimately, the students have an opportunity to create a community development project. It is a fascinating example of an NGO unleashing the potential of local talent (which I think is a much more effective approach than an NGO simply donating money for schools).

I hope that all YA delegates were motivated to start taking action on education in Africa. A new generation of educated people is what we need to weaken the grip of the continent’s “strongmen.”

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International Year of the Youth

Today is International Youth Day!

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Photos from the YA

To see photos from the 7th Annual Youth Assembly at the UN click here!

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