UNICEF Student Summit inspires and empowers student delegates-2023 UNICEF Student Summit-Nord Anglia Education
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Nord Anglia
27 July, 2023

UNICEF Student Summit inspires and empowers student delegates

UNICEF Student Summit inspires and empowers student delegates-2023 UNICEF Student Summit-NAE-UNICEF Summit

This article was written by four Nord Anglia students — Zhi Yu Shu, Martina Gonzalez, Van Khue Nguyen, and Yeonjin Kim — after attending the 2023 NAE-UNICEF event.

With over one hundred student delegates from different Nord Anglia schools joining the 2023 NAE-UNICEF Summit, this year’s summit was the largest in history. And the experience was truly immersive, inspiring, and empowering — surpassing all our expectations of what it would entail. 

After counting down the months, we finally embarked on our journey to New York City, where we formed new friendships, joined insightful workshops, and learned more about how we can implement change within our own communities around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We arrived from different corners of the world, and rather than being jet-lagged we were beyond excited. We met Dr. Leslie Williams, who leads Nord Anglia’s social impact efforts, and she invited us to think about our 'why'. Why were we there? Why was the Summit so important to us?

These 'whys' stayed close to our hearts throughout the entire experience, serving as constant reminders of what we wanted to achieve. We couldn't help but notice a common theme across all our 'whys': we come from such diverse backgrounds, but collaboration is truly important to us all. 

Day 1 of the UNICEF Student Summit

On our first day of the Summit, we loved visiting the UNICEF headquarters in NYC. We joined sessions on building dialogue skills, with one profound quote that stood out to us being: ‘We challenge an idea not a person.’

Next, during our ‘One-Minute Solutions’ workshop, we brainstormed feasible solutions for our own local communities for each SDG and then shared our ideas with each other. 

After a little break, we had a wonderful time discussing the goals with UNICEF experts and asked them challenging questions that piqued our curiosity. There was also a session with the World’s Largest Lesson, followed by time to work on our final SDG presentations for the end of the week, and more.

Finally, to end our first big day, we stopped by the One Vanderbilt skyscraper and got busy taking lots of photos of the breathtaking New York City landscape!

Day 2: Activism, sustainable goals, and sightseeing

On our second day, we all headed to our sister school, Nord Anglia International School of New York, where took part in the an Activism Playbook Workshop, which was all about how we can turn our big ideas into actual action.

Next, we got back to work preparing for the big SDG conference, the capstone of this year’s summit. We were all eager (and a bit nervous!) about presenting our ideas around the SDGs, but we loved working with other passionate students from Nord Anglia schools across the globe, from Asia to the Middle East, India, Europe, and across the Americas.

We wanted our final proposals to be focused on how we might achieve each of the 17 goals, and how we can overcome any obstacles in our way. We also thought about ways our Nord Anglia schools can further support us, and how we’re all interconnected in these efforts across our global family of schools. Learning and collaborating with students from different countries let us share ideas and strengthened the new friendships we began the day before.

We ended our second day with bright lights and packed crowds by visiting Times Square, Central Park, the MET, and the ARTECHOUSE digital arts space. This was definitely one of the greatest experiences of the trip so far, with lots of souvenirs purchased and American fast-food cravings satisfied! 

 

Day 3: The SDG Conference

Before heading back to NAISNY to continue working on our presentations for the SDG Conference, we were treated to a morning walk along the Highline, allowing us to enjoy the impressive infrastructure and gorgeous green scenery on the repurposed railway. 
 
With a relaxing start to the day and refreshed minds, we returned to NAISNY and began a session about Nord Anglia’s Social Impact Grants programme with two peers who are members of the Student Advisory Board.
 
After the productive session, we set off to finish our presentations on our respective SDGs and, as lunch rolled around, gigantic pizza boxes were delivered with students bringing slices to their assigned rooms for an active working lunch. We were all passionate about being as prepared as possible for the SDG Conference!
 
Then, with flattering hairstyles, stylish suits, and polished shoes, we walked to the UNICEF building with the intention of making the conference the talk of the town. We delivered our presentations and offered our proposals to leaders from Nord Anglia, including CEO Andrew Fitzmaurice and Chief Education Officer Elise Ecoff. Also attending were Director of the World’s largest Lesson Kinvara Peterson and UNICEF’s Partnerships Specialist Jennifer Lee Nieves.

All in all, it was a big success, and we were also impressed by the Master of Ceremonies, Santiago Flores, thanks to his sharp wit and how he helped the panel ask informed questions.

UNICEF Student Summit inspires and empowers student delegates-2023 UNICEF Student Summit

 

Time to say goodbye and get to work

Just like that, the three days of the summit came to an end.

Upon reflection, we realised just how significant the lessons we learned along the way are. This event gave us all optimism and a renewed desire to strive for more meaningful change. We also reaffirmed the importance of collaboration and saw how dialogue is best used to achieve this. We also learned about the complexity and interconnected nature of the SDGs, and agreed that taking real action is the only way to ensure progress.

As Kinvara Peterson said, “The game is won in the second half.” It’s the communal understanding of how the SDGs can be achieved that left us feeling hopeful and inspired about the projects we’ll undertake in our local communities.

Without a doubt, the friendships we made, the innovative ideas generated, and our passion to foster awareness and action around the SDGs will follow us every step of the way. 
 
On behalf of all student delegates, we’d like to express our appreciation and gratitude towards the Nord Anglia team, chaperones and workshop leaders for making this experience as enjoyable as it was.  
 
As we bid farewell to the summit, we anticipate the upcoming actions with great motivation and excitement. We'll use the lessons from this experience to inspire and propel us forward as we step boldly into the future, ready to encounter challenges and embrace whatever it may hold.