Global Youth Ambassadors on #UpForSchool: Bamine Boye
Up for School or #upforschool campaign
A World at School hosted the #UpForSchool Petition and the September Forum in New York during the United Nations General Assembly. In a week-long series, four of our Global Youth Ambassadors and a member of the Youth Advocacy Group are writing blogs about their experiences while attending these and other events.
By Bamine Boye, A World at School Global Youth Ambassador from Sierra Leone
Before now, whenever I thought of New York, one thing came to my mind: “The city that never sleeps.” After my trip to the city last week, New York will forever be defined for me as the city where I was part of history.
Yes, you heard me clearly. I was part of a history-making event where the #UpForSchool Petition campaign was launched. I joined hundreds of youth leaders from around the world to launch a petition that we aim to make the biggest ever in history. That’s the goal and we are all working to make happen.â¨
I arrived in New York on Sunday, September 21 at around 6am, very sleepy and exhausted following my flight from California. I was too jetlagged to sleep that morning.
At around 4pm, Chernor and I left to go to the A World At School office to join the team, collect materials and head together to the New York University for the planned rehearsal. I was super excited because that was my first time to meet fellow Global Youth Ambassadors and the amazing staff at A World At School.
We did an energetic run-through and I made a lot of friends and connections. Lest I forget, AWAS staff were the most fun and best people to be around because they made the rehearsal room lively at all time with jokes and encouragements to speakers.â¨â¨
Let me fast forward to the main events, which were an experience of a lifetime. I had never seen that enthusiasm, passion and determination in young people to impact change in the world the way I saw and witnessed in New York. It gave me hope that we are on the path of making history by making sure that we keep advocating until every child is in school.
The big selfie at the #UpForSchool rally
I was one of the five young people who were privileged to speak about why we are #UpForSchool and to bring the voices of other advocates around the world into the room. The stories of these young girls and boys created a real sense of the essence of the campaign. Their stories are touching, their struggles are real and their desires and achievements are unquestionable.
At the launch on September 22, we were privileged to have distinguished guests like Gordon and Sarah Brown, Isha Sesay and even Graça Machel, the widow of the late Nelson Mandela. They joined us to declare their support for our campaign and to rise #UpForSchool with us.
The energy in the room was overwhelming and that was possible with our able emcee Chernor Bah, who has the charisma to bring a crowd of thousands to a standing ovation. He came up with a chant “We are marching” and the crowd responded “Up for School.” That slogan is still ringing in my ears as sometimes I just feel the energy to shout it out loud.â¨
A key highlight at the event was the moment Gordon Brown gave awards to amazing young people – our friends and education champions who, despite all odds, are rising up for school in their communities and creating positive change. These young people, nine in total this year, are clearly heroes of our time and I salute their courage and hard work.â¨
At the end of the launching ceremony, we took a cool selfie with the VIPs using the #UpForSchool signage. We then proceeded to actually march #UpForSchool into Washington Square Park, where we were able to spread the word and start having people sign the petition.â¨â¨
On September 23, AWAS and its partners had a high-level summit, which included a special youth strategy session where the Youth Advocacy Group Toolkit animated video was launched. It was another opportunity to not only hear more inspiring stories but to receive additional skills that I will sure be taking on to continue championing the cause of education.
â¨â¨On my final day in New York, the 24th, I attended the high-level anniversary event of the Global First initiative for Education at the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations General Assembly. I was able to attend the programme with the AWAS team, GEFI Youth Advocacy Group members and fellow GYAs, Rabia Faridi – an amazing young woman from Pakistan – who was one of the recipients of the Youth Courage Awards.
At the event, Michelle Obama was the keynote speaker and we had many presidents, prime ministers, top government ministers and other UN agencies present. From the opening speaker to the closing speaker, we heard how governments and organisations are reaffirming their commitments and willingness to making education a priority in their agenda and making sure that every child have an access to education.
The First Lady of the United States was the keynote speaker. She made an inspirational call for girls’ education and urged governments and organisations to invest more in education. She used her story as a clear example of what can happen when girls are given the right to go to school.
Ooooh! Did I forget to mention who introduced Michelle Obama? Having seen this renowned young man and having had the opportunity to benefit from his mentorship over the years, it was no surprise that Chernor Bah received a standing ovation for his eloquent and touching introduction. That was by far my most memorable highlight for me personally.â¨â¨
New York, oh New York, what an amazing experience I got there. Those experiences will always live with me and what I learned there will surely be utilised in my continued advocacy work.
Since I left New York, I’ve been waiting for that email or call to go there back because of the good times and the things I was able to learn. I must also confess that the amazing YAG team are doing an excellent job and the AWAS team including Madeline, Mara and the others are by far the best team I have ever met in my many years in advocacy and traveling. Keep it up guys!!