Change Starts Here! – A Recap of the 2018 UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit

By Wes Rogerson

March 7, 2018

No one said that changing the world would be easy or fun, but it’s imperative, and it starts here.

On a rain-soaked Friday, I queued with quiet enthusiasm outside the United Nations. I patiently waited for the opportunity to enter the world-renowned halls of the UN General Assembly—a place that many of us have only imagined.  My years of debate, through Model United Nations, finally coming to fruition.

No longer was I representing a country in a practiced discussion, but standing where leaders of all nations, address the world. A platform for one to share a vision of a better tomorrow.  I couldn’t believe, I was standing there alongside 1,500 Americans, with the opportunity to expand my mind and raise my voice for an institution that raises others from poverty and oppression.  

I was attending UNA-USA’s Global Engagement Summit, the largest-ever assembly of American support for the UN at the UN.

2018 UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 at United Nations Headquarters. (Photo by Diane Bondareff for UNA-USA)

As I listened to the stories of academics, non-profit leaders, innovators, and diplomats, I was filled with hope.  Hope in the future promised by initiatives like the sustainable development goals, and hope that institutions like United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) can aid victims of the ongoing refugee crisis.

I grew to realize that humanity is often overshadowed by the statistics of the refugee crisis. What we see now is not only an emergency of overwhelming proportions but one comprised of mothers and children.  Despite coming from separate conflicts and cultures, a refugee is no different than you or me and given the resources and opportunity they can help change the world. The startling truth behind this humanitarian crisis isn’t that opportunities come scarcely, but rather that the mechanism that creates opportunity is missing entirely: education.

Lidia Bastianich attending the 2018 UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit.

Hearing from a world-renowned chef and Adopt-A-Future champion Lidia Bastianich, who came to America as a refugee, I felt more inspired than ever to find a way to help.  She explained how she was able to beat the odds and succeed despite being uprooted from her home from fear of violence and persecution.  I learned how we as Americans can empower refugees through programs like Adopt-a-Future, which works to build schools and give the most vulnerable among us the opportunities they deserve.  Now back home, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned and to mobilize my community to truly make a difference. “No one said that changing the world would be easy or fun, but it’s imperative, and it starts here.”

Take Action Challenge

After attending this historic event at the United Nations, I realize that now is the time to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill to protect the vital work of the United Nations. Join me June 10 – 12, 2018 at UNA-USA’s Leadership Summit in Washington DC! Learn more and Register.

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