11 July 2014

Opinion: A spirit of inclusion and collaboration

“Sharing a culture of intellectual responsibility”, the mission statement of the United Nations Academic Impact, words that capture the power of UNAI. Since the launch of the United Nations Academic Impact on November 18th, 2010, its profound influence is evidenced by global connections, shared intellectual resources, and ability to instill responsibility on local and global levels.

At the United Nations Headquarters, a discussion with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jody Williams broadcast worldwide through UN WebTV. At the University of Innsbruck, Austria, Model United Nations students have a conversation through the use of Skype with a panel at the United Nations Headquarters on the importance of preserving mother languages. On the Third Anniversary of UNAI, the memorable Youth Making a Difference Conference held in the historic ECOSOC Chambers of the United Nations, youth discuss ways they have affected positive change. Demonstrating UNAI’s spirit of inclusion and collaboration, the ASPIRE branch of East Stroudsburg South High School in Pennsylvania, USA, participated in all of these events.

The United Nations Academic Impact has energized and supported our ASPIRE students to become ambassadors of UNAI in our school and community, educating their peers, parents, and teachers on the Ten Universally Accepted Principles of UNAI. Leila Bouchekouk, an ASPIRE student leader and an Algerian-American young woman, constructed a website highlighting the initiatives and events of UNAI ASPIRE of East Stroudsburg South High School during the 2013-2014 school year. Leila organized the site to include student reflections, published articles, web videos, and photo galleries. This website, and our students’ work upon it, truly illustrates the meaning of the acronym ASPIRE: Action by Students to Promote Innovation and Reform through Education.


- Michael Healey