Dilip Chauhan, deputy commissioner for Trade, Investment, and Innovation presented the formal certificate to AFS president and CEO Daniel Obst at the opening ceremonies of the Youth Assembly, which was hosted at the UN headquarters by AFS Intercultural Programs and the UN Department of Global Communications Civil Society Unit.
Since 1999, International Youth Day has been observed on August 12 each year. It is a day acknowledged by The United Nations to recognize youth issues on a global scale and to connect youth with like-minded peers as well as national and global leaders.
Obst spoke with The PIE News on Friday evening at the event. “The most important thing for us is to make sure young people are at the center of creating positive change,” he asserted.
Invoking this year’s International Youth Day theme of intergenerational solidarity, Obst added, “We need to work together across sectors; across generations. We need everyone to be at the table to help solve the challenges that we have.”
The Youth Assembly creates opportunities for robust intergenerational collaboration with leaders from a variety of sectors working with youth in workshops, lectors, seminars, roundtables, concerts, and networking.
“We need to work together across sectors; across generations. We need everyone to be at the table”
The Youth Assembly has been gathering since 2004 to brainstorm about global concerns and to consider creative, sustainable solutions.
Veronica Boix Mansilla is a principal investigator of Project Zero at the Harvard School of Education, where she also serves as the chair for the Future of Learning Institute. Before presenting on an intergenerational panel at the opening ceremonies on Friday, Mansilla spoke with The PIE about the transformational nature of the assembly.
“It is extremely important that youth see themselves as main actors in this project of creating societies that are kinder, more sustainable, more inclusive,” she avowed.
Mansilla said having the hundreds of delegates from over 75 countries together in NYC helps position them within a memorable experience.
One student who made many memories this past weekend was Noel Ifeanyi Alumona of Nigeria. Alumona is a graduate student at Villanova University and the founder of the non-profit organisation called Boys Champions.
Alumona and numerous other delegates applied for a monetary award for their non-profits – applicants had to demonstrate a need related to the sustainable development goals, and establish how it is intercultural, intergenerational, sustainable, and scalable.
“We’re fighting violence against women and girls in Nigeria by challenging societal beliefs and institutions that promote violence,” Alumona told The PIE.
“We’re providing at-risk young men with the tools and mentorship they need to become part of the processes of ending violence against women and girls in Nigeria,” he added.
Alumona argued growing up without a father or mentor was detrimental. He had a transformational conversation with Barack Obama in Johannesburg in 2018, and shortly thereafter, founded Boys Champions. The organisation’s staff mentor young males in Nigeria, training them to become part of the solution to ending violence against women and girls.
“We’re fighting violence against women and girls in Nigeria by challenging societal beliefs”
He leads a team of nearly 5,000 young people who volunteer across Nigeria for Boys Champions. He said he enjoys providing solutions to issues focusing on gender-based violence, peace-building, special education, youth value development, and childcare improvement.
Alumona pitched his non-profit during the weekend of events and shared with stakeholders about his passion for community service, global peace, education, and foreign diplomatic affairs. When he was selected as the winner later in the weekend, Obst presented Alumona with a check for $10,000.
After being chosen for this prestigious award, Alumona reached out to The PIE to share reflections from the event.
“This recognition is a great honour. We must all work together to cultivate healthy masculinity and challenge the culture that supports violence and make the world a safe place for women and girls.”
When asked about how the funds will impact the programming, Alumona said, “This funding will help us expand the impact of our work with boys in Nigeria. [We will] reach more at-risk young boys in rural communities and increase access to mental health resources for the boys we work with at our Boys Champions Safe Space.”