by Samantha Neugebauer
Hi! I’m Samantha Neugebauer and I’m one of 192 delegates selected to participate in the UN International Year of Youth Celebration on August 11th in New York City. This celebration, sponsored by AllyKatz and hosted by High School Musical star Monique Coleman, will be an opportunity for motivated girls ages 11-24 to share their voice and opinions on important global issues.
Through the Twitter feed of @shesthefirst and its founder @tammytibbetts, I learned about this amazing opportunity! I would not have known to apply otherwise. Now, I get to spend a day at the UN headquarters and the French Institute Alliance Francaise, become friends with a group of talented and inspiring girls, participate in a press conference broadcast worldwide, and meet celebrities and sponsors.
Most importantly, I will have a platform to talk about an issue I can about: college access. At the Millennium UN Summit in September 2000, eight Millennium Developments Goals were agreed upon by members of the UN with a deadline of 2015. At present date, it is unlikely that all these goals will be attained in entirety, but that does not mean the UN has not made great strides over the last 11 years. At the Youth Celebration, I plan to talk about the Millennium Goal of Universal Education.
According to a report by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, countries such as Burundi, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and Tanzania have either achieved or come close to attaining primary education for all its children. This a great progress, but there is a still a long way to go. This past May, I graduated with an M.S.Ed in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania. The primary focus of my studies was college access and international education; however, my interest as education stretches back as far back as I can remember.
I am proud to have grown up Philadelphia and I was the first person in my family to earn a college degree when I graduated from New York University. At NYU, I developed my own concentration on the American Dream and I learned a lot about the social, economic, and geographic forces that keep people from receiving a quality education. I also learned how even in the most educated societies in the world, there is still fear and misunderstanding.
In March 2011, shortly after the heartbreaking natural disasters in Japan, a U.C.LA. student made an unsettling YouTube video. She complained and mocked fellow Japanese students who, in her opinion, were being too noisy in the library following Japan’s devastation. While she received harsh criticism from many in her university community and beyond, the disconcerting truth is this student is not an anomaly. Despite globalization, technology, and efforts by various groups, there is still room in our own country and across the world for more and better education.
I believe with Universal Education, we will see a sharp decline in this type of behavior, misapprehension, and racism. As our world shrinks, we will rely on our international friendships for many things and with educated societies, we will come to respect all cultures and create dialogues with one another. It is simple to think the problem is elsewhere, in some faraway place, but we can’t ignore the educational discrepancies between one neighborhood to the next right here in America. That is why I plan to discuss how it is imperative that we all have a chance–not just those born in wealthy societies and households–to have an education and a voice among the world’s nearly seven billion citizens.
I’ll fill you in on what happens at the Celebration– please leave any questions you have for me about the big day below!