Maryam

I am a 15 year old from the East Bay area in California. My family is from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Additionally I am strongly connected to my Muslim culture. My sister, who lives in Manhattan, got me involved in this program. Before I attended this program, I had no idea of what to expect. I had never been in a program like this before. All I knew was that I had to fly all the way to New York to attend. Now I believe that all of us from the program can make a change in the world because of the great opportunities that Mahroo of the Manhattan Multicultural Program gave us. We learned that all it takes is one person to change something; that it takes only one person to create a movement.

The first day of the program, we went to UNICEF.  We met with a woman and a man who told us about One Minute Jr.'s, which are one minute films, each telling a different child’s right.  From watching the videos I learned that children in other countries actually want an education, even though many kids in America take education for granted. We visited UNICEF many times, visiting with different people each time, every person told us a different inspiring story or project they were working on. These people gave hope to those in need. Also at UNICEF we learned about a woman named Thembi. Thembi made an AIDS diary to make everyone realize that just because you have AIDS; it doesn't mean you can't do anything like a person without HIV. She traveled to India to spread awareness, because India has the highest AIDS rates in the world.

We also learned about the eight Millennium Development Goals. These are goals set by the United Nations to be fulfilled by 2015. Goal 1 is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, Goal 2 is to achieve universal primary education, Goal 3 is to promote gender equality and empower women, Goal 4 is to reduce child mortality, Goal 5 is to improve maternal health, Goal 6 is to Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, Goal 7 is to ensure environmental sustainability and the last, Goal 8 is to develop a global partnership for development. "Eight goals, one world, NO EXCUSES," we have only seven years left to complete these goals.

We also went to the New York Tolerance Center. We all had to think about what TOLERANCE means to us. I wrote, "Having the discipline to hold back." The first video presented, showed people in New York City talking about how they felt towards Muslims after 9/11. It was really interesting because I'm Muslim. Many of the people on the video expressed prejudices against Muslims based on what they saw on the television. It hurt to see that people are like that when they live in a melting pot society, but it was definitely an eye opener for me.  We learned a great deal about genocide and different genocides that have happened in the past. We learned that the Armenian Genocide lasted for seven years, from 1915 to 1923. We also learned that in the Rwandan Genocide, 800,000 people were killed in 90 days. I was so shocked when I saw that video. As I was looking around at my small group in the big theater, I saw my peers with teary eyes. It's one of those things that you can't turn your face from, but you don't want to look at either. We saw photos and advertisements that were racist and prejudiced. I think this was a good experience for all of us. It was the truth that everyone wants to know in their history class, and it was definitely not sugar coated.

We also had a day when we went to sacred places. Our group visited a Church, a Mosque and a Synagogue. In the church we had a nice tour guide who explained the diverse activities that take place on a daily basis. One activity described was sandwiches they make to distribute to homeless people everyday.  In the Mosque, those of us who weren't Muslim probably learned a lot, but I knew the majority of the information shared.  It was a good experience. I met some of the greatest people while in New York and I'm definitely going to visit them sometime soon.

I had a great time attending this program. I encourage anyone who’s interested in the United Nations to join this program next year. I made some awesome friendships that I know I will keep for a long time; I'm never going to forget these eight people that I shared this great opportunity with. I'll remember Mahroo for the rest of my life that's for sure! I loved how she was such a good listener, she was my mother away from home, and she kept me from getting homesick. I miss all of the people that I was with. I'm so glad I was in this program, I learned so much and I know that it only takes one person to make a difference in the world, and that one person very well may be me.

 

 

ALL human beings are born FREE and EQUAL in dignity and rights. 

-Universal Declaration of Human Rights