Before joining this program I essentially spent most of my summer getting ready for the upcoming school year. This fall I am entering college, so I have spent most of my summer vacation getting accustomed to this exciting, yet quite nerve-wracking experience. Despite worrying about how I will adapt to this new experience, I have spent a good time of my summer relaxing, hanging out with friends and family. I’ve spent countless hours in the school yard down my block playing soccer with my brother and friends. Joining the Manhattan Multicultural Summer Youth Program was a no brainer to me, especially because I attended the program last year as well. Last year was a new experience for me; being able to come out of my comfort zone and being able to share what was really on my mind. The program showed me that my opinion was valued and over the past year, throughout my senior year in high school I have seen a sudden change in how I act, carry myself, and how I react to the world around me. Knowing that I have changed, I wanted to rejoin the program to see how I would react to the information differently than I did last year. I see last year as a test run, coming out of my shell. During this years program, I felt that I could act upon and take the information that was given to me and turn it into something I could use in the future. Also, this year I was motivated to memorize the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and I must admit that I won the first prize in the competition with my friends. As I am entering college not knowing exactly what I want to major in, and especially what I want to devote my life to, I took this years program quite seriously because I am quite interested in the United Nations and in particular learning about culture.
Prior to attending the Manhattan Multicultural Summer Youth Program I hadn’t really done much with my summer. After finishing school the only interesting thing I had done was visit family in Florida. For almost an entire month I did nothing productive at all. The only thing to relieve me of my boredom would be occasionally hanging out with friends and family. My mother and I were constantly looking for things for me to do, and almost every time she mentions something I would turn it down because I wasn’t interested in what it was.
Prior to starting this program, I was either at home, studying, or working. I joined the program because of my interest in other cultures and also to help familiarize myself with what the United Nations was doing. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but within a few days I fell into the rhythm of the program, and became acutely aware of what was going on in the world, and was struck by how many countries the world over were experiencing the same things, like poverty, climate change, HIV/AIDS, and much more. I realized that this wasn’t something I could simply ignore and expect to go away, but that just as you had to be active in times of war, you had to active in the mission of accomplishing peace.
Before I started the MMSY program, I was interning for National Dance Institute, a dance company that I danced with since I was nine until I was fourteen, when I graduated from the program. I was working in their office filing papers, updating address books and doing whatever was asked of me. If I wasn't at the office, I was at home doing summer assignments or spending time with my friends and going to my country house every weekend. It was an amazing experience to be able to know what it is like to work in an office building and to have to sit at a desk all day. I realized that I would never want to work behind a desk. Though it was a great experience, I couldn't wait to get out of the desk and start this program.
Before the program I had done a few things like community service and helping around with different organizations, but nothing like this. One thing like that I did with my school was a project on human rights. I picked the topic of Child Soldiers In Uganda . This topic interested me because my father had done some previous work on it. I researched a lot about the topic and then made a diorama which showed stories of different child soldiers. I then presented it and talked about how people could help the cause. I also help out a lot at my community soup kitchen. I started to do so because of a social justice project I had to do for school and then I just continued on doing it. I feel that it’s really important to help out because it gives back to the community and allows you to help people less fortunate than yourself.
Before my two-week experience at the United Nations, I had already been experiencing a busy summer. I had already been to France to visit my relatives, I had already gone to a French soccer camp in Lyon, and I had already gone to a pre-college writing program at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. To say the least, I had been around already. Little did I know that there was much more in store to come during my program at the MMSY.