What we have accomplished at ONE wouldn’t be possible without our extraordinary members, members like Jeenan and Jen.
Jeenan Kaiser is a 4th-year Biomedical Sciences student at the University of Calgary. She has been involved in advocacy and fundraising efforts related to gender equality, girls’ education, and health promotion for several years throughout middle school, high school, and university. In January 2017, she started a ONE chapter on her campus and has been actively leading the chapter in advocacy work on campus. Jen Kostuchuk is an extremely driven 4th-year student at Carleton University in Ottawa who has been involved with ONE since January 2017. She is studying Human Rights, with a minor in Law and Women & Gender Studies so it’s only fitting that she would lead a ONE chapter on her campus.
Both Jeenan and Jen represented Canadian youth at the ONE Youth Ambassadors Summit in Brussels, Belgium from October 14-17, 2017. The event brought together youth advocates from over 35 countries across Europe, North America and Africa to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and to show to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that young people care about the fight against extreme poverty.
After the event, both Jeenan and Jen sat down with us to share their experience from the event.
Hi Jeenan and Jen! So great to see you after the ONE Youth Ambassadors Summit. How did it feel to represent Canadian youth at this Summit?
JEENAN: It was an incredible opportunity to represent Canada at the ONE Youth Ambassadors Summit in Brussels. This summit brought together over 300 youth advocates from all over the world. We gathered in the heart of Europe to call on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to support increases to the European Union’s development assistance in order to shift the EU’s focus back to ending extreme poverty. Attending this summit was an amazing experience from start to finish!
JEN: As a university student who studies Human Rights and Gender Studies, the ONE Youth Ambassador summit in Brussels was an experience of a lifetime for me. I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to be a ONE Canadian representative advocating for an organization that strongly aligns with my personal interests and values.
Jeenan, what would you say was your biggest accomplishment during this Summit?
JEENAN: On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I had lobby meetings with MEPs, including Manfred Weber and Frank Engel, and personally asked them to support increases in development financing in the 2018 EU Budget. Both MEPs committed to voting in favour! I also got to meet the Budget Rapporteur as well as the Development Commissioner’s team, and attended Parliamentary presentations to learn more about the EU’s commitment to poverty eradication.
What about you Jen? What’s one important thing you learned from this experience?
JEN: There were so many things! On the first day that we arrived in Brussels, I got to meet students from the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Italy. We all had different stories of how we joined and got involved with ONE. We all had our respective challenges in youth advocacy and recruitment and it was great being able to exchange ideas and advice on how to overcome those challenges. These connections that I made helped shape the way in which I continued to be encouraged and excited throughout the summit. Jeenan and I created a short video about the Canadian ONE experience, the work we have been doing as Campus Leaders at our respective universities and we had the opportunity to present it to other participants at the summit. Over the course of the weekend, we received extensive advocacy training and gained more information on programs launched by ONE such as the “Poverty is Sexist” and the “Girls Count” campaigns. It was interesting and thought-provoking to hear from influential speakers such as CEO Gayle Smith and co-founder Jamie Drummond. I learned about the partnership ONE has with African states, as well as information on the EU budget.
Sounds like an amazing event! Any final thoughts you would like to share about the Youth Ambassadors Summit?
JEENAN: Attending the Summit was an incredibly memorable and life-changing learning experience. I left Brussels feeling inspired, energized, and more motivated than ever to continue using my voice to create positive change in the world!
JEN: It was an incredible experience! Not only did I meet wonderful individuals who are passionate about the same issues as me but I also learned how human rights advocacy takes place at the grassroots level. A highlight of the summit was, of course, working with inspirational individuals who encouraged me to continue to advocate for fundamental human rights. As I carried a sign reading “none of us are equal until all of us are equal” I was reminded of being branded a “social justice warrior”. Surrounded by 300 like-minded students, the summit encouraged me to take pride in the title.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences at this event!