By Tenzin KunsangChicago UNITE Youth Rep
In February 2021, I attended a webinar put together by Neil Joseph Nakkash, one of my fellow UNICEF UNITE Midwest Council members, on the topic of mental health among refugees. Seeing someone my age pull off such a feat, prompted me to host a webinar of my own about a topic that was important to me: education.
Given UNICEF’s formative work in global education, my area of focus was difficult to narrow down. Ultimately, I decided to center the theme on education in the Himalayas. This region is where I trace my ancestral lineage and I felt compelled to share the stories of its inhabitants.
The Community Engagement Associate for the Midwest Region Team, Leslie Alvarez, informed me on the first step to host such an event: create a proposal. After emailing the UNICEF USA Community Fundraising manager, my webinar was approved and I worked on the ticketing page with the help of Leslie. After I booked panelists for the featured subtopics within education—gender, development, and health—the three speakers worked on the information they would present at the webinar. Cognizant of time, I also left half of the webinar open for questions from the audience.
Two weeks before the webinar, I advertised the event through my UNICEF Club and my personal Instagram, Google Classroom, and word of mouth. The day of the event was both exciting and nerve wracking but I slowly eased myself into the feeling of it all as the event progressed. Each speaker gave talks about their respective topics and answered questions from the audience. One of the biggest takeaways from the webinar was the importance of learning from those around us. The panelists all shared their own experiences with education, gender, and health in the Himalayan region that otherwise would not be found in textbooks. By lending an ear to other people, we hear their stories and make room to develop into a better friend, family member, and human.
The day after the webinar, on June 13th, I wore UNICEF’s iconic cyan colored graduation cord as I walked down Soldier Field. Starting a UNICEF Club in my sophomore year of high school, I would’ve never thought that it would result in an opportunity for me to weave my own narrative, in addition to the millions of other Himalayan descendants, into the fabric of the UNICEF community. I am thankful for the help of UNICEF USA and UNICEF’s dedicated efforts in making the world a more equitable, just place. I look forward to continuing my work with UNICEF in college and beyond.
If you’re interested in hosting a webinar, an awareness-driven event or fundraiser, fill out UNICEF’s Fundraiser Event Application at www.unicefusa.org/fundraiser.