BY MARIVIR R. MONTEBON
New York – Youth delegates of the Migrant Heritage Commission left New York with fond memories of and new realizations from their participation in the 11th Annual Youth Assembly of the United Nations which was concluded in early August. “The youth assembly has made me realize that we have so much potential to make a difference. I think it is time for us to step up and help make a difference,” said Ayah Manalastas of Virginia.
The MHC is a not-for-profit organization based in Washington, DC which provides services to immigrants through its legal assistance, education, youth development, cultural diversity and development, and social and medical services programs.
For this year, MHC has sent 26 youth delegates from August 1-3, 2012 at the UN headquarters in New York as part of its youth development program. The MHC Youth Envoys for Peace, as they are officially called are: Nicole Calaro, Edalaine Tangkeko, Stephanie Lyn Marquez, Jessica Campanilla, Lexi J.A. Crisostomo, Iana Kozelsky, Jolene Mafnas, Gissele Pinero, Irene Barnachea, Therese Maria Igharas, Jennefer Ipanag, Camille David, Leani Auxilio, Ayah Manalastas, Andrew Jimenez, Jose Pestaner, Nathan Ebilane, Krishna Mata, Rynchelle Campanilla, Nathan Ebilane and Kathleen Calaro. This year’s batch was joined by five of last year’s batch of delegates as the group’s leaders: Raymund Valera Jaramillo, Alex Valera, Chessa Taboada, Lizane Joyce Mata and Heather Horner.
Lexi Crisostomo, for his part said, “this assembly has made me grow and the MHC as well. And I believe that with this, we will be able to help the others in a much better way.”
The 11th Youth Assembly gathered on the theme “UNwired Generations: Youth Leveraging Technology for the Millennium Development Goals” which was highlighted by presentations on technological breakthroughs that improved the lives of people all over the world. These projects centered on innovative technology, education, and gender fair programs and were presented by speakers from the Philippines, Europe, USA, Kenya, and Bangladesh, among others.
MHC youth delegate Jennefer Ipanag said she was inspired by all the presentations but admired most the presentation of Illac Diaz from the Philippines, who generated electricity by recycling one liter soda bottles and using them to catch light to illuminate homes in the slums of Manila. “Being here has given me the idea on how to start your own charity project or business to be of help to those who need it most.”
Leani Auxilio meanwhile noted that in the assembly, she realized how technology can become useful and practical to people and actually help improve their economic lives. She’s currently contemplating whether to go back home to the Philippines or travel to Ecuador as a Service Ambassador spring next year.
During the cultural night, held in a cruise ship plying through the Hudson River, the MHC youth performed Tinikling, a Philippine folk dance using bamboo poles. They were the most applauded presenters that night, and youth leaders from other countries approached them to learn the dance even before Mr. Alex Valera announced that they would be happy to teach interested learners.
The Envoys for Peace said they were grateful to MHC for having chosen them to represent MHC in this year’s UN Assembly, and that the feelings of being a family and a community within three short days would never be forgotten. Nathan Ebilane couldn’t have said it any better: “I learned that leadership means to be part of a team and cultivate the value of cooperation.”