November 11, 2020
I remember coming across a video in my Twitter feed highlighting the unstable shelters that young Yemeni children must call home. These childrens’ emotions resonated with me. Learning that UNICEF’s work allows for children to access clean water, healthcare, and education, is what drove me to want to be a part of such an organization. Prior to this, I was a part of the school club for UNICEF. Fundraising was something I truly enjoyed. It was around my sophomore year of high school when I came across an email that was looking for representatives for each state’s UNICEF team. Intrigued, I applied to be a Detroit Youth Representative for UNICEF, not thinking much of it. Fortunately, I was granted the opportunity to be part of the UNICEF USA Youth Council (aka UNITErs), working towards a better future for children all around the world. This was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life. The feeling of being a part of such an organization was like finding the missing piece to my puzzle. I invested time into understanding the life of refugees and foreign exchange students coming from war torn areas when I attended the UNICEF March Summit in Washington D.C.
Over the past couple of years, I have been able to partake in many different opportunities. I have participated in many recruitment and retention activities like reaching out to government officials and working closely with the UNITE teams around the State. My team consists of an amazing group of students from all over Michigan, but I have had the opportunity to speak with people from all around the world. An example of this was when I had a briefing with UNICEF’S Afghanistan Chief of Field Operation and Emergency Mustapha Ben Messaoud. Just being able to communicate with a vast group of people has been so rewarding.
I have had the opportunity to work closely with a team that has created three virtual town halls that included many amazing guest speakers, including Abdul El-Sayed. I had to use my connections in order to get such amazing speakers. Coordinating virtual town halls required me to understand social media advertising, how to connect with other organizations, and really work behind the scenes. Oftentimes, I would have to make sure that the audience questions were being answered by the panelist and that the panelists were experts on the topic being discussed.
I have built many connections that relate heavily with my future plans of working in Public Health. Working with a charity organization will open up the possibilities of fulfilling my dream of creating my own non-profit organization. Within this past year, I have been granted the opportunity to become an Advocacy Lead for the UNITE council within my team. The Advocacy Lead is tasked with building constituent support for UNICEF USA’s advocacy strategy. They work with the UNITE team to help to build lasting constituent relationships with federal, state and local government officials to promote policies and legislative actions important to UNICEF, including financial support from the U.S. Government. This promotion would have never happened if I didn’t go for the opportunities that I had been given.
If there is anything that I have learned from this experience, it is to just go for it! Know that you are capable of doing amazing and unimaginable things, and believe me you will do even more if you use your passions to anchor your possibilities.
Written by Let’s Detroit Campus Ambassador, Yasmine Maarouf at Wayne State University. Connect with Yasmine here!