Chapter Spotlight: UT Austin
Gold Recipient of the March Membership Madness Competition
This past March Membership Madness, the UNA campus chapter at UT Austin was motivated to use their voice in their campus to expand their views as global citizens, and to advocate for the UN sustainable development goals in their own community. When they first heard about March Membership Madness, they were thrilled to participate in a competition that would elevate the voices of students and spread the ideals and values that the United Nations strives to promote each and every day. Throughout the month of March, UT Austin focused specifically on their chapter’s pillar of global thinking – the idea that through the power of education and the sharing of ideas, people have the ability to grow global awareness on issues and topics that range from climate change to women’s empowerment.
During the month of March, UT Austin facilitated important discussions on topics, such as sexual violence against women on university campuses and gun violence. They also gave members the opportunity to present on issues that reflect their passion for positive and impactful change. In fact, one of UT Austin’s UNA students, Nora Melham, spoke to their chapter members about the global impact of the Syrian refugee crisis. Following this presentation, UNA student members had the opportunity to engage with Nora and others through important dialogue. Some of the questions that were posed included: What can be done to assist refugees that have been forced to flee their homes? What can we do individually as global citizens to promote peace and security? Through this discussion, topics such as immigration policy and the effects it has on refugees in America were debated. The dialogue was positively dynamic, especially when UNA members at UT Austin were able to discuss their own personal experiences with working with refugees in their community. After Nora’s presentation, members attended Stand Up For Refugees, a stand up comedy show benefiting Refugee Services of Texas and their efforts to help refugees integrate into the United States.
Another event that UT Austin’s UNA campus chapter participated in was 40 Acres Fest, a campus-wide festival that featured the diverse student organizations that exist at their university. In order to advocate for the sustainable development goals, one of their recruitment directors, Cerena Ermitanio, organized a “Generation UN – UT Austin” booth to fundraise for Amazon Watch, a nonprofit organization that promotes indigenous rights and the conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon.
In addition to these amazing events, UT Austin UNA campus chapter also encouraged members to attend a lecture by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president of Liberia and the first female head-of-state of Africa. President Sirleaf inspired UNA student members with her story as a woman in power and a resilient leader during a time of conflict and division. Her work in advocacy for gender equity embodies one of the the many goals of the United Nations, and encourages students to become the world’s next generation of global leaders.
March was a month of opportunity for the UNA campus chapter at UT Austin. Today, they are even more driven to grow their organization’s impact through activities that promote global thinking, cultural experiences, and community development. UNA has given students at UT Austin and across the United States a platform to spark conversations needed to solve the issues of our global future. Young Americans, such as the UNA student members at UT Austin, are excited to see the progress they are making for the next generation of leaders!