Simon Doong joins more than 1,000 young people at conference
By Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
More than 1,000 young people from around the world recently gathered at the United Nations to attend the 2018 Winter Youth Assembly. Simon Doong, a Young Adult Volunteer with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, was among the attendees.
The conference was organized by Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, which works to empower people through global education, youth leadership development and cultural exchange programs. Attendees were given the opportunity to engage the environmental and partnership dimensions of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, tackle inequalities and combat climate change.
“I’ve learned a lot about how the PC(USA) works to address problems like climate change and poverty through partnership and advocacy,” said Doong. “I wanted to learn how we can enhance our work and further empower youth at the same time.”
Doong says the experience was “invigorating and re-affirming” of the church’s work around the world, referring to a session on building partnerships to end human trafficking.
“One speaker stressed the role of civil society in reporting trafficking efforts and taking preventative measures in local communities,” he said. “It made me proud to know that such efforts are a core part of PC(USA) policy and mission partner efforts around the world.”
Miroslav Lajčák, president of the UN General Assembly, addressed the Youth Assembly delegates, saying that world leaders “have said [we] need to hear youth voices, while repeatedly hugging the microphone ourselves.” Doong is hopeful the church can be a space for youth to be heard while providing opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue.
“The PC(USA) and many faith communities around the world already do the work the U.N. deems important,” Doong said. “Therefore, they provide unique opportunities for youth engagement and advocacy on issues of inequality and climate change.”
Other participants at the assembly included the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, the U.N. Environment Program and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
“It’s rare to see young people have such access to representatives of U.N. entities and ambassadors,” said Doong.
“Many of the youth at this assembly have little access outside of the weeklong event,” said Ryan Smith, director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. “Because of the PC(USA)’s presence through the Presbyterian Ministry at the U.N., Simon gets to experience these types of events for an entire year, where he learns to build bridges between the Church and the international community.”
Doong is a Beltsville, Maryland, native and a graduate of the College of Wooster, where he majored in international relations with a focus on economics. He is in the midst of a yearlong commitment to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations as an NYC YAV. Simon served as a Young Adult Volunteer last year in Korea.
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