Morristown, N.J. (February 27, 2018) – A historic number of Americans, including a delegation of College of Saint Elizabeth student-leaders, showed their support for the UN at the United Nations Association of the United States of America's (UNA-USA) annual Global Engagement Summit at UN Headquarters in New York City.
With more than 1,500 attendees expected, the Global Engagement Summit was the largest assembly ever of Americans gathered in support of the UN.
The convening takes place at a pivotal moment for the world and the U.S.-UN relationship. The planet is facing the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis since World War II, terrorism, and threats from the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, American leaders are deliberating the nation's role at the UN, and several UN priorities are under threat both on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
While political leaders may be in disaccord, research shows that American voters registered in both major parties agree that sustained U.S. leadership at the UN is vital. A nationwide poll released in October 2017 by the Better World Campaign, UNA-USA's sister organization, found that a vast majority of Americans believe it is important for the U.S. to maintain an active role at the UN.
To demonstrate this overwhelming support for strong U.S.-UN engagement, Americans from across the country, including the College of Saint Elizabeth, met at the United Nations and participated in sessions on pressing global issues like climate change, peace and security, the refugee crisis, and more.
"I was honored to sit in the same seats that former diplomats and presidents from all over the world have sat in," said JoChena Dort, '18. "This opportunity has opened my eyes to the critical issues facing innocent civilians all around the world today."
In addition to discussing significant global issues, students were encouraged to take action locally and develop their own unique points of view.
"Many great ideas were introduced that could actually be applicable on a college campus as well as worldwide," says Linda Barria, '21. "It was also a great opportunity to network and expose yourself to different interests and ways you can help others."
Other topics discussed at the summit centered around social advocacy through artistic expression and advancing human rights by promoting human safety and dignity.
"One theme mentioned during the summit was that change starts with you," says Hayley Holzhacker, 18. "One speaker commented that 'we must stand up, raise our voices, and put forward our best selves to get anywhere in this world' and that really resonated with me."
This trip was sponsored by the history department and the Office of Student Engagement.
The students who attended the conference are: