Chapter Spotlight: Connecticut
Cross-generational community engagement is core to the UNA Connecticut Chapter’s goals. In order to educate people unfamiliar with the United Nations’ history, aims, and values, and to harness global support for the UN’s development and future, grassroots youth engagement is critical. President of the UNA Connecticut Chapter, Joe Baxter, champions this goal, affirming how, “students are never too young to have a global perspective and appreciate the significance of the UN – what it has accomplished and has not accomplished.” By developing this comprehensive understanding of the UN, youth, students, and young professionals will know exactly what action needs to occur to secure a better future as future leaders and change-makers.
The Connecticut chapter actively promotes youth engagement through their scholarship program for high school seniors. Established 12 years ago, the program encourages Connecticut students to become global citizens and consider internationally focused studies and careers. Joe underscores the importance of supporting students during these formative years, while they discover how to apply their passions beyond their local communities onto the global stage.
Not only does the scholarship program promote students’ personal aspirations toward global service and international affairs, it also cultivates students’ interests in advocacy with UNA-USA. Through the scholarship program, state Model United Nations programs, and presentations at local schools, the Connecticut chapter works to include youth in all chapter activities, as they believe “education and education of young people is central to [their] mission.”
For chapters looking to engage youth, Joe recommends chapter leaders to be bold in communicating with youth and their networks. The Connecticut chapter attributes success to reaching out to teachers and making the effort to engage them, especially after realizing how teachers had been rarely included in these activities and conversations. As with any community engagement program, one first conversation can evolve into countless opportunities, demonstrating the strength of grassroots advocacy.