The Alumni Association was created in November 2010 by the Alumni Association Council with support from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Volunteer and Community Partnerships Department to encourage UNICEF Campus Initiative alumni to continue their involvement in UNICEF after college. The current Council is steered by 5 alumni from across the country, who are working professionals or graduate students.
A year after our first meeting, the members of the UNICEF Campus Initiative Alumni Association Council reunited at Riverside Church on Saturday, October 8. We fueled up on coffee, reviewed the schedule, donned our blue UNICEF nametags to get the Campus Summit off to a great start. It was a busy morning of assisting and directing the over 250 student participants between the hostel, the United Nations, and the event venue at Riverside Church.
The weekend was jam-packed with exciting speakers, workshops and activities. One of the highlights was the UNICEF emergency simulation, which sought to re-create the challenges that UNICEF field staff encounter in responding to crises around the world. Our particular hypothetical involved a flood in Sri Lanka that left thousands of children and families without access to clean water, medicine, food, education, or communication. As Campus Alumni working the event, we had the opportunity to participate in a variety of roles — from an insistent member of the internationa lpress corps to an impromptu UNICEF field staffer scrambling to reunite displaced children with their families. It was an eye-opening experience in seeing firsthand the complex challenges of UNICEF’s work in emergencies.
The conference did not just involve serious issues of child survival and disaster response. On Sunday night, we split into teams and took New York City by storm as part of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Extravaganza. The scavenger hunt led groups of students and alumni to various landmarks around the city to spread the word about the campaign and engage people with UNICEF.
Alumni trekked together to Bryant Park, where we passed out Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes, collected donations, and even filmed people’s childhood memories about Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. This experience allowed us to step out of our regular lives as working professionals and graduate students and have fun while educating about UNICEF in New York City.
Lastly, we also had the opportunity to present a workshop about the Alumni Association to interested students and graduates. It was an engaging and useful way to provide attendees with a better understanding of the Alumni Association, to get them excited about it, and to celebrate the first full year of our launch. We strongly believe that our presence at the Summit will help us to grow both our membership and our infrastructure as an Alumni Association.
We leave the weekend with new ideas, new friends, and a new passion for UNICEF, and we want to thank the National Council, Rachael Swanson, Taruna Sadhoo, Lauren Slater, and Shristi Pandey for their hard work in making it happen.