Global Citizenship: A Day at the UN
This February, UNICEF’s first Global Citizenship Fellows graduated after a year of service on behalf of UNICEF. Global Citizenship Fellows work as grassroots spokespersons for children, inspiring communities to act on behalf of children around the world. As the first group of fellows graduates, they look back at some of the highlights of their year. Katia Stefanatou was the 2012 New York Global Citizenship Fellow.
I am so fortunate to be able to do the work I do. Inspiring others, engaging my community, empowering youth, and educating citizens about children’s issues is not just a job for me, it is my passion!
As a UNICEF Global Citizenship Fellow I did all this, and more. I gave presentations on issues ranging from water and sanitation to girls’ education, created partnerships with local YMCAs, hosted events with UNICEF Campus Initiative members, and promoted Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and TeachUNICEF. But I will never forget the day I spoke in front of a large audience of Rotarians at the United Nations.
Some 600 Rotary Interact program members had gathered in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations for Rotary U.N. Day. The annual U.N. Day draws Rotarians from all over the world to celebrate the relationship between the two organizations and to educate participants about the U.N.’s work. The Interact program is Rotary International’s service club for youth ages 12 – 18, which the U.S. Fund for UNICEF has a longstanding partnership with.
A colleague and I co-presented on the subject of water and sanitation. Since we were the last ones to speak, I wanted our presentation to be as interactive as possible. Trivia questions on world water facts built the momentum for the entire presentation. The students were attentive and interested in the topic, and you could see the shock on their faces when hearing the harsh facts and statistics — for example that nearly 4,000 children under 5 die every day from water-related illness. But our role was greater than just to provide facts about UNICEF’s work: We were there to ignite the students’ passion for service by offering them simple and fun ways to take action locally, while having an impact globally. Water walks, social media, UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts, and joining the Tap Project were a few of the suggestions students came away with.
Speaking to a large audience can be quite intimidating and even scary at times, which is how I felt when I started the fellowship. But as my journey comes to an end, I have addressed not only my fear of public speaking, but have discovered a true passion to speak out on what I care about the most: advocating for the world’s children. We each have a voice, and during my year of service I learned how important it is for us to teach our youth that they too can speak up and advocate for what is right.
Before holding the position of UNICEF Global Citizenship Fellow, Katia served for two years with the Volunteer and Community Partnerships at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and was instrumental in launching and developing the UNICEF High School Club program. Katia holds a B.A. in Economics with a concentration on Socio-Economic Development from Paris XII University in Paris, France, and a Professional Certificate in Global Affairs from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Katia is the sole recipient of the Honorary President’s Call to Service Award in 2011 and was one of the 97 volunteers nationwide to receive the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2010, the President’s honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.