1By Juliana Maria Marques Boyd, SNDatUN Intern:  April 27, 2017 was my first day at the United Nations (UN) in New York. It was like a dream come true. I have walked many places in my life, but walking into the United Nations Headquarters for the first time filled my heart with hope, love, and happiness. I have always pictured myself being part of the UN. For many years, I have dreamt of making positive difference in the world by helping young people in Latin America have better opportunities in life. This period of my internship with Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the UN is for me, the beginning of the realization of that dream.

On my first day at the UN, my supervisor, Grace Amarachi, SNDdeN showed me round2 the UN and informed me as to how to access the conference rooms, the library and cafeterias. We visited the Department of Disarmament where there was a display of daily military expenditure worldwide. I was shocked to notice how much little money is spent on disarmament and peacebuilding in comparison to military spending. The display shows a circle the size of my kitchen table representing the amount of monies spent on war and then another circle the size of an apple representing what is spent on disarmament and peacebuilding. It is clear to see the purpose of the UN and how the organization strives for a just and peaceful world. This is also the world that many of us desire for ourselves and for our children.

3As we ended our orientation, this beautiful painting of faces of people from different nations, races and religion caught my attention.  I stood before the painting and gave a big smile so a photo could be taken. I was very happy and the photo portrays my feelings. Overall, I would describe the UN as a holistic place which breeds knowledge, history, beauty and peace. It is the only place where all nations come together on a common ground to discuss a better world. After this overwhelming experience, as I exit the UN, I felt like a different person, I knew that I was no longer    just an American or a Brazilian citizen, but a citizen of the world.


August 12, International Youth Day, presents all of us with an opportunity to celebrate and promote youth engagement in societies around the world. As the UN agency UNESCO says, “More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing.”


The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Although more than 4 million youths go abroad to study each year, 74 million more are unemployed and also not in school. When youths are engaged in their communities, they and society both benefit. Skills training and community programs can be expensive for countries with limited resources, but in the end it will cost even more not to provide this societal support.

   Learn about Youth Day: copy

Participate in local youth day activities



Vivian Onano 1Ten years ago Vivian Onano was a student at Starehe Girls Centre and School, a National High School in Nairobi, Kenya. Today she regularly participates in United Nations meetings in New York. She has come a long way from her arduous childhood in rural Kenya because of the support of others and her own hard work. Among other roles, Vivian is now a Young Leader for Women Deliver, an Education Spokesperson for Moremi Africa, and a member of the UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group. In this capacity Vivian speaks with passion at the UN about issues that affect youth.

Ezeonu, Nzuzi, Onano, Stoner2

Left to right: Amarachi Ezeonu, Paola Nzuzi, Vivian Onano, and Jean Stoner at the UN

Jane Soita, SNDdeN, Vivian’s teacher and supporter, continues to teach at Starehe. Jane says, “The girls here in school are inspired with what those who have gone before them can do. They are also working so hard to pass their high school exams so that they can join Universities. Vivian’s presentation at the UN has had a positive impact on the young ones here in school.”

More about Vivian:

Read her impressive biography: Onano

View her keynote address in May 2015 at the UN World Programme of Action for Youth – her part begins at 23:30:

Follow her Huffington Post blog:

Activism is my rent for living on the planet.
Alice Walker