Representing the USA at the UN Human Rights Summit

Naureen Kaur's account of being the USA Delegate at the International Human Rights Summit

I just came back from a week in New York City, and although I am still jet-lagged and recovering, I am truly still on cloud 9 with this whole experience. Many of you have been asking for me to share my experiences at the summit, and I figured it would be best to put them all into a blog where I can thoroughly detail everything.

It's interesting-- mainly because I didn't even know the term "human rights" existed up until recently. Although I was doing human rights work for quite some time now, I always associated the work that I did with "civil rights." Human Rights, and this summit, truly expanded that definition and view for me... knowing that rights belong to every human being in this world, and unfortunately, many countries are failing short.

I applied to be a delegate for this summit, honestly not thinking I would be selected to represent the USA. But when I got that email of acceptance, I was ecstatic and literally screamed while sitting next to my dog ( Sorry to my dog betta for giving you that heart attack <3). But in all seriousness, I was so excited to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity, and represent my faith, state, and country.

I am truly blessed to have had a full support system behind me in order for me to attend this summit. Thank you to those who donated to my GoFundMe page-- without your support, I couldn't have made it. I would also like to give a HUGE shoutout to Shop Common Threads in Denver for sponsoring all the lovely clothing I got to wear at the United Nations, as well as Lipsense by Megan Flowers for sponsoring the prettiest shade of "bella" during my time in NYC.

I am also truly thankful to the many news outlets who shared this news on their respective platforms-- including Harjot Singh Khalsa with SikhNet, SALDEF, Jatinder Pahala with Sikh Entrepreneur, HB Singh with Asia Samachar, and Jus Punjabi News Network I was truly touched with the amount of support and love given to me from the Sikh community.

My Seat at the Summit


The Summit: After traveling on a flight for 3 hours, I finally had arrived in NYC. I was blessed to have been able to room together with the delegates from UK, Albania, and Zimbabwe, and even more lucky to call them my friends after this summit :)

So the summit was 3 days, with the first two days being held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and the last in Harlem. During the first two days, delegates from all over the world ( I believe there were over 44 countries represented) got to hear from so many speakers-- ranging from UN Ambassadors, to teachers, to rappers/poets, etc. It was truly a diverse group of speakers who spoke on issues ranging from discrimination, to human trafficking, to other advocacy issues. For me, there were a few standout speeches that will always stick with me.

We were lucky enough to hear from the UN Ambassador from Canada, and although he was incredibly kind in person, his speech really spoke to me. Coming from a country that is neighbors with the USA, he talked about how no country can ever be exempt from potentially violating human

UN Ambassador from Canada

rights. No matter how "modern" a country might be, there is always room for improvement. For example, I was surprised to learn that human trafficking is still such a huge issue in the USA, mainly because the news just doesn't report on it anymore.

But probably one of my favorite experiences during this summit was to watch Colby Jeffers perform "we can change the world." I am a HUGE rap fan, and so as I was sitting inside the UN, I heard him rap the many faiths/traditions of this world. I am so used to seeing Sikhism skipped and missed out on, and was expecting that this song would be no different. But to my surprise, it was mentioned and I was BEYOND happy. Like, literally to a point where I almost screamed inside the UN because I was so touched. Even afterwards, I got to briefly talk with Colby after witnessing him rap the list of

UN Delegates from around the world

human rights to people at Grand Central Station, and was even more amazed with his commitment to change the world through his music. If you haven't checked him out yet, I highly recommend you do so ASAP. You won't regret it.

At the second day of the summit, I got to share my speech in front of the United Nations. (literally, how often does one get to do that <3). With my bright yellow dress on from Shop Common Threads Denver, I was ready to take it on. In my speech, I talked about my experiences growing up as a Sikh-American in the USA. I started off my speech talking about a note I received when I was sitting in my 7th grade science class

US + Canada Ambassadors/Delegates

that told me to "go back to my country because America isn't for people like you," and how that has acted as a catalyst for me to fight against bullying and more religious tolerance in the states. I shared my story as candidly as possible, including the many struggles I have had to undergo in oder to increase awareness for my faith. It was a moment I can and never will forget.

After this summit, I even got to do my first TV interview ( I know-- totally geekin' out still) and meeting the general Consulate of India.

After my interview with Jus Punjabi

General Consulate of India

These experiences showed me that although I might be young, I can be powerful enough to make strides in this world.

Of course, I can't type every single event that happened at this summit, but I can say this. I am leaving feeling empowered that I am not alone in this struggle. All over the world, youth from many countries and many walks of life are rising up, fighting against injustices, and taking a stand. And for me, that is incredibly moving. I am taking away moments like acting like a Human Rights Frat Boy with Langni Zeng (The delegate from Canada), to meeting

Outside the UN

Marisol Nichols ( who is in my favorite TV Show -Riverdale), to spending NYC nights with an incredibly group of delegates from all around the world. 

Delegates, Ambassadors, and Observers-- thank you for your stories and for your company. It is because of you-- and your love for the fight-- that this world can be changed for the better.

 I can't wait to continue this journey, and I can't wait to see where it leads me. I would like to thank Demme Durrett and Nina Christensen for your guidance throughout this weekend. I would also like to thank Dr. Mary Shuttleworth at the Youth for Human Rights International for your commitment to education and empowering the youth.

Until next time.

 

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