It was a whirlwind of experiences this time at the Nexus Global Youth Summit in New York City last month. Now don’t fall for the name – this is a mixed up gathering of philanthropists, especially young ones, and activists from across sectors who work with a variety of social issues across the world. Held at the UN, we Atlas Corps Fellows got to experience a day of sessions, and a day of volunteering at the event.
Now having the task of handling security at the UN on Day 1 was as crazy as it sounds; it isn’t all pleasant when everyone is in a rush to get in and more than the occasional famous person discovers that when their name is not on the list they can not get in. But in those shared moments of waiting for more passes to come out of the UN, we go a rare chance to talk to some of the most amazing and inspiring people waiting outside with us. A sweltering hot day of hard work at the gates of the UN felt breezy with the wondrous interactions we fellows had with people who (sometimes) we barely recognized were famous, but got instantly pally with without the preconceived notions that come with fame. My favourite plenary was the one with the Crown Prince of Norway (having heard him before in his home country) when he talked about the Global Dignity project. Do check it out at www.globaldignity.org
My favourite part of Nexus, however, was the inter-faith iftaar tables which were part of Day 1’s evening affair. Taking place in a room aside from the crowded dinner party, here were people from all walks of life, with all faiths, spiritual identities, having dinner together and sharing their experiences about how their faith, their beliefs influence their work and how they deal with international conflicts.
As an LGBTIQ rights activist, what appealed to my sensibilities was the fact that for the first time in the history of Nexus there was a breakout session on Global LGBTIQ rights and philanthropy. Geena Rocero, a proud, out trans* supermodel and a brilliant activist for the rights of trans* people globally, gave a wondrous speech about her work with Gender Proud (www.genderproud.com), while Ruth Messinger from AJWS talked about the advances in global LGBTIQ rights work and why it was urgent and important to pay attention and invest in such work.
Overall, even though the Summit was crazy packed and there were so many things going on, I’m glad to have made acquaintance with countless other young activists like me who are doing amazing work in the nonprofit sector, and to have been able to express my ideas about how a lot of these inspiring individuals can have a stronger role in working on youth issues across the world.