Initiative Spreads UN Knowledge


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By Amina Bhatti

One of the university’s main goals in its mission statement is to transform its students into leaders who are concerned with global issues.

Fordham’s Jesuit identity encourages its students to become “men and women for others.” This goal is what Kelly Roberts had in mind when she began the Fordham Impact Initiative five years ago to allow Fordham students to learn more about the U.N. through first-hand experience.

The initiative currently allows two designated youth representatives to bring other students to the U.N. to participate in events and programs.

Roberts works for Fordham’s Office of International Services and is also a representative of a non-governmental organization (NGO) associated with the U.N. called N.A.F.S.A.: Association of International Educators. In keeping with this NGO’s mission to encourage greater collaboration between universities and the U.N., Roberts developed the Fordham Impact Initiative, as a way for Fordham to become an affiliate with the U.N., and for its students to have a greater involvement and experience through such participation.

According to an article by Janet Sassi, “Fordham Granted Special NGO Association with United Nations,” which was published in the 2013 issue of Inside Fordham, the university became an NGO in 2013 along with 16 other universities.

The article discusses how Fordham will collaborate with the non-governmental sector of the U.N. to report its own activities as a U.N. affiliate, while providing students with the opportunity to intern with the U.N. and other NGOs.

Miranda Morton, FCRH ’15, and Theresa Carthy, FCRH ’15 are the current youth representatives for Fordham. As youth representatives, Morton and Carthy must attend NGO briefings at the U.N.’s Department of Public Information every Thursday.  These briefings discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the U.N.— a list of eight goals set by the U.N. to be achieved by 2015, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and the reduction of child mortality.

“Of course not all of these goals have been reached, but at the U.N., we will evaluate how much progress we’ve made,” Morton explained.

“[Our] role as Youth Representative(s) is to learn more about different aspects of the U.N. agenda each week, and share what [we’ve] learned with the greater Fordham community”,,Carthy said.

One way Morton and Carthy do this is by posting about the briefings they attended in their blog, “The Fordham Impact Initiative,” at fordhamimpactinitiative.wordpress.com. In addition, Morton explained that she and Carthy try to bring more students to connect with the U.N. by welcoming them to attend the weekly briefings. Students can apply for the youth representative position at the Fordham Impact Initiative beginning next semester.

Morton encouraged all Fordham students to consider getting involved in the Fordham Impact Initiative, saying, “My friends are so excited for me to be working at the U.N. but they don’t realize that because Fordham is affiliated with the U.N., they too [as Fordham students] have the opportunity to participate.”

Morton also felt that Fordham’s many community service clubs could network and collaborate to help implement some of the U.N.’s goals.

“After all,” she said, “we at Fordham are a privileged and proudly Jesuit community that can impact the world around us.”