by Suzanne Markland, UNA-SNY Young Professionals Member
The United Nations Association USA Leadership Summit was truly a new and fresh experience for me. The Summit left me satisfied in more than one way. All participants were engaged for two days in intellectual conversations with experienced experts. My knowledge of the United Nations and the issues in the global sphere has grown because of these conversations.
On the third and final day which was Lobby Day, we hit the well-paved streets of Washington D.C. bright and early. We caught many inquisitive eyes in our blue UNA shirts. Multiple generations and races came together to take action. Noticing this made me proud to be one of the hundreds daring to step into the buildings created for senators and Congressmen but it surely was still intimidating to me for a couple of reasons.
First, I was not born or raised in this country. Second, where I come from social action of this magnitude is very uncommon. Therefore, I was not used to challenging a person in power to stand for something that is right and to represent myself and constituents like me through the decisions they make. This day meant a lot to me because the United Nations has meant so much to me. I have always wanted to work with the United Nations for as long as I could remember. So as I walked into Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office with all these thoughts and feelings I watched everyone else speak and told myself that I would do the same when I felt comfortable and quelled my anxiety.
It took me a while, but when I finally spoke, it was at my Congressman Serrano’s office. I don't remember every point I made, but I knew for sure that it was clear that the community residents in my district care about the United Nations and so should he and his vote. All of the facts I gathered over the past two days of the Summit and from my experience in Model UN I put to use and was pleased to know that my voice was heard.
Meeting of the minds
One more thing I loved about this summit is that I got the opportunity to meet so many like-minded individuals who I have stayed in contact with. I get to pick their brain on issues that not only matter to me but also to them. I relish this because it is usually difficult to find millennials who have not already grown weary of the 24-hour news cycle and disinterested in discussing what we can do in our own communities to help.
I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who had a hand in making this summit possible. I loved every day of it! And the endless supply of coffee 😁