One Young World: Educational Authority Delelgates Educational Trip

My name is Dakota Armour. I am a 23 years old junior doctor and an assistant leader within 19th Belfast Rangers. I was accepted to be a One Young World Conference delegate to represent the Northern Ireland Education Authority at the 2022 summit in Tokyo. Due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions affecting entry into Japan the conference was postponed and as such an alternative educational trip was organised for the group delegates.

In May 2022, I participated in a 10-day trip to Washington DC and Puerto Rico. I travelled as part of a diverse group of 31 young people from Northern Ireland representing the Education Authority. The aim of the trip was to convene with a number of governmental and non-profit organisations to discuss political and social issues affecting local communities, in order to bring back important experiences to our communities and encourage social action.

In Washington DC, we visited the US state department and NI bureau. We met with Northern Irish representatives from these organisations and discussed how Northern Ireland is seen on a global stage from the perspective of politics, business and tourism. As young people, we purposed how we see the future of Northern Ireland and the progress that needs to be made to achieve these aspirations. Homelessness and poverty are two massive issues affecting the population of Washington DC. We volunteered with two organisations to gain an insight into current programmes in place to assist. So Others May Eat (SOME) and Bread for the City are two community based organisation that offer food, clothing and healthcare to those experiencing extreme poverty or homelessness. I spent a day volunteering within each of these organisations to see the logical organisation behind running such services and met with service users to hear their stories. With the cost-of-living crisis affecting everyone in our local communities the need for local food bank services is going to rise within Northern Ireland. In response to my experiences, I would like to become involved in assisting with local food bank services and work to engage my Ranger Unit in volunteer work through the Take Action section of their theme awards.

In Puerto Rico, we worked with the community organisation Caras con Causa who focus on improving academic proficiency through educational programmes to enable community-based management of natural resources and development to foster economic sustainability. Through visiting local community groups, non-profit organisations such as Corredor Ecologico del Noreste and El Yunque rainforest, I learnt about the challenges that the people of Puerto Rico face. These included political uncertainty and corruption and the impact of natural disasters, climate change and unsustainable development for tourism. Caras con Causa place the education of young people at the centre of all their work. Climate change is a massively important issue to many of the young people in my Ranger Unit, thus I would like to work with them to develop an educational programme on climate change and social action projects that they and other local units could become involved in.

The One Young World Conference is coming to Belfast in 2023. The conference brings together young leaders from over 190 countries to work together to accelerate social impact. I would strongly encourage all girls to look out for opportunities to become involved in the conference.