Before attending the MMSY program I was attending a program at Brown University called the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL). It was a two week program in Narragansett Bay at Brown’s estate on the water. For the entire two weeks, I and the 29 other students slept in 8-person wood-based tents, with no electricity. We studied and had a community space in the lodge, the only building with electricity. By the end of the two weeks we each had to think of our own “action-plan” with something that we could do to change an environmental problem in our community. My plan was start an Environmental Justice club to raise enough money to buy everyone a reusable metal water bottle and to work on recycling in our school (as a start!)
I wasn’t sure at all what MMSY would be like when I first arrived Monday morning, but it was unexpectedly challenging. Each person was different and smart and I felt I could learn so much from. The assistants such as Jenny, Alex and Jenifer were funny and always on the ball. Mahroo was always taking us to different places I would never have expected to go and had us meet people I would never have dreamed of meeting.
It opened my eyes to the world. I went from having an undetailed image in my head of the many issues our world faces, to knowing in so much detail about many of the problems. The class wasn’t just limited to poverty, or the environment, or women’s rights; it touched every issue at least once. We went into each subject and discussed each of our opinions everyday.
I always loved Korean food, but I had never studied that much Korean culture or met as many Koreans all at once before. It was a great change of pace from American and European History! The Koreans I met were incredibly interesting and really gave me an in-depth look at Korea.
It wasn’t only Korea, but it was diversity in general. We learned about so many different cultures and backgrounds. Even with some Jewish family members, I still learned so much on our trip to the synagogue. I loved how we all were different races. We got to see into each others lives and cultures. We got to see what is different and the same in other families.
I learned it’s important to have a voice and share opinions but it’s just as important to listen…I have no trouble talking, but sometimes I have trouble listening. MMSY helped me develop better listening skills to help me accept all views on different subjects that I feel strongly about.
The Millennium Development Goals were also a big part of the program. They were the 15 goals that the UN created in the year 2000 that they aimed to solve by 2015. It has been 10 years and not much has been done or seems to be on its way to being done. This upset me, hearing that the number of staff on board with the Millennium Development Goals has dropped considerably since it first started. These goals are so important to the welfare of the world…why does it seem like nothing is being done?
Just two days ago, I emailed Voices of Youth, one of the programs we heard from. They especially inspired me and I wish to do more with them. They are working on topics that are important, and they want to hear from young adults. I have a voice that wants to be heard!
Aside from that, I intend to do more for the environment. Through the environmental club in school and efforts to make New York City more sustainable. Styrofoam is not degradable, and yet many restaurants and cafes still use it to wrap up food. It doesn’t make sense that even though the damage we are doing to the planet is clearly visible, many choose to overlook it, thinking it is not a big deal. The idea they have is “if I do something, just me, I won’t change anything.” If we all think that, we certainly won’t change anything. This mindset needs to be adjusted! I would like to help change it.
All in all, my time at MMSY program was truly inspiring. I feel more in touch with the world around me and much more aware. It got my mind really working and I believe my actions now will stem from this program.