Many Languages, One World® Winners Attend Global Youth Forum in NYC & Boston

11 August 2017 – ELS Educational Services, in partnership with the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), invited 60 student essay contest winners from around the world to attend the Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum in New York City, NY, and the Global Youth Symposium at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. from 16-26 July, 2017.

The Many Languages, One World essay contest challenged university students to write an essay in one of the six official languages of the United Nations – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish – examining global citizenship, cultural understanding and the role that multilingualism can have in fostering both. Essays could not be written in the students’ first language, or primary language of instruction, resulting in students submitting essays in their third, or even fourth languages.

This year, more than 6,000 students and sponsors from 170 countries participated in the initial phase of this contest, and out of a pool of more than 2,000 entries, 60 essays were selected as winners – representing 27 different countries and 57 universities worldwide.

The 60 winners – grouped together according to the language in which they wrote their essay – spent four days at Northeastern University collaborating with each other and creating action plans for addressing goals from the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The students presented these plans at the United Nations General Assembly on 21 July 2017.

“Today we are here to celebrate the Many Languages, One World essay. These students have studied in depth, one SDG or another before coming, they have heard from their peers within their language group about the situation of that SDG in their own countries, and they have shared solutions and ideas that have been created within those countries,” said ELS President Emeritus Mark W. Harris. “Today we are going to hear from another generation…these are the people of commitment, who will go forth from here after standing at this podium in the United Nations, and carry with them the responsibility to make the changes to obtain those goals.”

Each student gave a two-minute presentation on their assigned SDG, spoken in the language of their winning essays, to offer solutions of improvement within their own countries.

“Today is a very special day for each one of us, 60 young people from every corner of the globe. We found that we are not alone – there are people in China, United Kingdom, Morocco, India, Brazil, and many other places working hard on the same goal: make the world a better place to live for all, for all, and not just for some. We are committed to the world and not only to our country, because before any nation, any flag, any culture, we are living and breathing on the same planet. So to end, I evoke a call to action: let’s ride to a brighter future by bringing every single person together,” said English group winner Bárbara Rafaela da Silva Machado, Brazil.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet to UN Secretary General António Guterres was also in attendance to give the winners words of encouragement on his behalf.

“[These students] have demonstrated to us that at our best, we communicate for the sake of improving our world…too often language is used to obscure our message when it should be a tool to carry it further to new audiences, with fresh ears and fresh ideas. I thank all of you here today for playing your part. I call upon all the award winners here today to become the principal young activists that our world needs,” she said. “The young women and men of Many Languages, One World are showing how multilingualism can foster global citizenship and cultural understanding, and contribute to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world.”

At the conclusion of the event in New York City, students then traveled back to Northeastern University to close out the week with a tour of Fenway Park, and a farewell dinner cruise on Boston Harbor.