Chapter Spotlight: Greater Detroit
With great power comes great responsibility, something UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations Jay’Len Boone knows well. But, in his recent trip back to his home state of Michigan the phrase took on a new meaning. Engaging with students, community members, and UNA-USA chapter leaders across the state, Jay’Len was able to revisit the city that made him the leader he is today. It was no rosy path for the Youth Observer; he recalls visiting his old middle school where he was severely bullied as a child.
“I was afraid to walk into the doors, that school held a lot of weight,” said Jay’Len. “I then felt in shock, everything felt so much smaller and I was bigger which changed a lot for me.”
He had old teachers approach him with an over pouring of pride, and connected with the new students who he could not have been more proud of, noting how intuitive young students are today. Jay’Len laughed about how when he asked the students what they wanted to be when they were older he assumed they would say perfunctory answers such as fireman, but they had incredibly deep responses. One child wanted to study hard to become a lawyer so that they could change Detroit’s juvenile system. Another was working hard to become a doctor because their family members have cancer and they want to cure it. Emphasizing how our youth are absorbing everything we say and do, their potential to succeed is infinite and we must give them as many opportunities to find their passions and discover their careers as possible. When living in the Midwest, it can feel like the East Coast is worlds away and, quite frankly, unattainable from a financial, educational, societal standpoint. Futures at organizations such as the UN are often not presented at all, or are presented very quietly. Jay’Len wanted to show students that they can be as loud as they want about the dreams they have for themselves. He even describes his unorthodox introduction to the UN, and how he never thought it would be something he could do. When talking to the youth in Detroit he noticed they had those same thoughts, and offered this advice, saying “they all have the capability of going and representing their country and earning that spot at the UN, but we need to encourage them to be local leaders…Because over time, the UN may just knock on their door instead.”
Alesia Morris of the UNA Greater Detroit Chapter could not stop beaming about how truly impactful it was to the community to come have Jay’Len share his experiences. The main point the community tried to get across was their willingness to help. “How can we help him?” Alesia said. “Everyone in Detroit is so proud of him, and the first reaction from our group were questions on how can we make his job easier for him.” The response? Just keep spreading the word, ensure people feel that they have a place at the United Nations. Ensure their voice is heard. An intrinsic desire that each of us have to feel heard, especially at times where the future seems undetermined, can provide great comfort. Having the Youth Observer in Michigan showed how much people across the nation have an interest in protecting our planet and the people on it, and as we continue to discuss the impact of the United Nations 75th anniversary, it is so important to open the discussion to those all across America.