A high school student from Ozone Park was invited to travel to Dubai and speak about climate change and what actions can be taken to address it at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last month.
According to Zahra, she first heard about this opportunity during her time taking part in a summer program, “U.S. in the World,” at the Council on Foreign Relations Institute, held in partnership with Global Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to developing youth leaders. Thanks in large part to the fact that she is an active Global Kids member at her high school and her leadership role, Zahra was invited to apply for a Global Kids program allowing students to travel to Dubai and take part in the conference. Zahra submitted her application and was among the lucky ones chosen.
Zahra and the other students took part in a panel at the conference, which was focused on intergenerational leadership and how young people can be educators of climate literacy. She spoke about innovative strategies to protect all kinds of ecosystems, as well as emphasizing the importance of youth involvement in revolutionary conversations, citing their ability to inspire older generations to explore new ways to combat climate change.
“I mainly wanted [the audience] to know that youths should have a seat at the table and be given more opportunities to speak and make climate change decisions,” Zahra said. “People assume that youths shouldn’t be allowed to say anything because they don’t know much and aren’t exposed to much. But if kids aren’t exposed to these kind of things early on, how are they going to make bigger decisions when they’re older?”
Zahra took great pride in being chosen to attend this conference and be able to learn as well as teach about combatting climate change.
“I never thought that I would have the chance in high school to be able to travel to another country for a whole week,” Zahra said. “To actually get to take part in such an important event, to learn from it and to get to teach other people, I thought that was an amazing opportunity.”
In addition to this trip being a great learning experience for her, Zahra said it also helped boost her confidence. By speaking at the panel, she was able to greatly improve her public speaking skills. Additionally, she had the opportunity to network with people from around the world and connect with the other participants.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” Zahra said. “I got exposed to so many different things. Meeting delegates from so many different countries was amazing. I also got to learn a lot of stuff about climate change and how humans and animals can contribute to it. It was very informative.”