Chapter Spotlight: Arizona State University

For this chapter spotlight, I decided to interview Saiarchana, incoming UNA-Arizona State University President, to learn more about how their chapter celebrated UN Day. I thought it was important to highlight both ASU’s UN Day Gala event and the teamwork required to plan a successful event. Saiarchana is fairly new to the UNA family, as are many of UNA-ASU’s chapter members. Sharing this spotlight can be beneficial to new chapters and chapters that are transitioning in leadership.

How did your chapter celebrate UN Day and why was this important to you?

Our Chapter held a UN Gala at our university to celebrate the UN’s birthday. We collaborated with seven different clubs within our university, including our university’s UNICEF club, Model UN club, and Make Your Impact Club. At this gala, we hosted guest speaker and United Nations employee Coby Jones, held a Q & A session, and even offered dinner (including vegan tamales to increase inclusive food options). About 75 people were expected to attend the event, however almost 100 people actually showed up.

This event was not only important to our chapter – it was equally as important to our campus community. ASU students deserve to have resources and information about how to change the world so that they can grow as individuals and as future leaders. At our event, students were asking direct questions to someone who works for the United Nations – and they were receiving honest answers. It’s beautiful knowing that we helped provide the resources necessary for there to be a real and open dialogue about the current state of the world between students and a current changemaker. I believe it’s important to increase accessibility between students and changemakers in order for students to get inspired.

What was one highlight of your event?

The whole event was a valuable experience – it was like having a prom related to the UN. Attendees dressed up, took pictures together, and ate a fancy dinner. One highlight of our gala would be the Q & A session with speaker Coby Jones. It was inspiring being able to give students the opportunity to have direct dialogue with someone who has a background in the UN. Another highlight of our event, for me, was working with my team. The UNA executive board team was comprised of passionate student changemakers who were extremely helpful despite how busy their lives could get. Being able to work as a team altogether was very rewarding and a highlight in itself because we all put in our efforts into this event. Each member knew what they were tasked with and took the initiative to get work done. Everybody worked without needing to be asked or prompted to, and that is what made this event successful and meaningful.

What did you learn from this event, and what were some challenges that your team faced?

We learned that partnerships with other student organizations and clubs are an amazing way to connect with others and very beneficial when it comes to promoting an event. The partnerships we had with other clubs on campus proved to have a win-win result. Our UNA chapter led this event while also making clubs official partners. These clubs were tasked with promoting our event with their members and helping with the organizing process of the event. We listed the clubs as official partners on our brochures and posters and they tabled and promoted their own clubs at the gala.

One challenge we faced was that our whole UNA team was composed of relatively new members. Planning and executing an event of this scale was definitely new to many of us, but with the hard work and drive each one of us had, we were able to work as a team and successfully throw this event.

What advice or tips would you have for our new chapters and reviving chapters, in regards to event planning- especially an event of this scale?

There are three pieces of advice that I would like to share in regards to throwing an event.

The first piece of advice is to have confidence. Know that the work you are doing is important and has value. You need to believe that the work you are doing is needed, because it is. This faith in yourself will help you feel more confident in building your club up from the ground.

The second piece of advice I would give is to understand the creative power you have as a leader. You and your team have the creative freedom to do whatever you want with this club in a way that promotes the SDGs while also having fun! As a leader, you hold the ability to envision ideas and put them into physical creation with your team. You hold the power to imagine ideas never done before and put them into action.

The third piece of advice I would give is to establish a strong leadership base. Our team is the backbone to our chapter. It’s important to continuously encourage your members and build leaders. There is a certain power that comes from a group of individuals who are passionate about changing the world together.