YOUNGA 2022 Continues with Engaging Discussions


By Joseph Conciatori, Creative Spirit Alumni, Marketing Content Writer at Navitend

Following an opening week full of engaging discussions, YOUNGA 2022 presented by

BridgingTheGap Ventures continued last week with even more opportunities for youth delegates

from around the world to collaborate with each other, learn from global leaders, and share

thoughts about how to spark positive, meaningful change. On Wednesday, October 5, I joined

my fellow delegates for not one, but two virtual discussions about the importance of leadership.

In “Universal Declaration of Human Duties for Leaders,” we participated in a

master class hosted by Argenis Angulo, the president of JCI, an organization for developing

aspiring leaders in more than 5,000 communities worldwide. After introducing himself, Argenis

said that during his youth in Venezuela, he did not have the characteristics a traditional leader

would possess. However, at age 18, Argenis joined two leadership organizations so he could

develop those qualities. He then asked me and my fellow delegates to define leadership in our

own words.

My fellow delegates and I then went to, entering words that we thought best

described the ideal leader. We also used the Zoom text chat to share our thoughts, with

delegate Ayana Robinson mentioning selflessness as a quality leaders must possess. Once we

finished this interactive activity, Argenis told us that leadership is not about a specific position.

Rather, he said that the goal is to assume leadership of our own lives.

As Argenis continued to stress the importance of effective global leaders, we expressed

our thoughts in the chat, emphasizing that leaders should be advocates, pacesetters, and a

voice for their people. He then introduced us to the Universal Declaration of Human Duties for

Leaders, a framework outlining our responsibilities as leaders in a complex, ever-changing


During YOUNGA 2022 Argenis explained that our first duty as leaders is to preserve life, starting with our

physical and mental health, with the goal of promoting long-term peace, inclusion, and

prosperity for all. He then shifted emphasis to serving humanity, not just respecting, caring, and

honoring every individual, but also contributing to safe and fair communities. Youth delegate

Leah from Northern Ireland shared her thoughts, emphasizing the importance of giving back to

our communities and society as a whole. I then thought about my own experiences volunteering

at the Netcong food bank and participating in other charitable initiatives.

Argenis continued by outlining the importance of protecting our physical environment

and preserving the ecosystems around us, specifically emphasizing sustainable choices to lay

the foundation for future generations. He then shifted emphasis to the fourth duty, namely

preserving, protecting, and encouraging the freedom to create new enterprises. Argenis then

mentioned investing in local industry not only to create jobs in our communities, but also to cut

costs and lower our carbon footprint by not having to import the goods produced locally.

Next, during YOUNGA 2022 Argenis outlined the importance of respecting human personality, namely

cherishing our fellow leaders’ diverse opinions, as well as respecting elements of all cultures,

such as our respective heritages and the languages we speak. Youth delegate Dhruti from

South Africa then shared her thoughts, stating that all “out-of-the-box ideas are born from

diversity, and diversity comes from inclusion,” especially in the workplace. Argenis then

highlighted the importance of educating ourselves and others. In addition to promoting access to

equitable education and equal opportunities worldwide, we must also appreciate, develop, and

explore human talent and entrepreneurial spirit. Furthermore, it is not enough to use our skills

and knowledge to advance our own careers. We need to utilize these same skills to uplift others

as well.

Finally, Argenis emphasized the importance of leading responsibility. The seventh and

final tenet in the Declaration of Duties for Leaders states that we must not only responsibly

exercise and protect individual freedom of expression, but also create an environment of mutual

respect and most importantly, know, respect, and promote human rights worldwide.

Forty minutes after the first session ended, I joined my fellow delegates for a fireside

chat with Himaja Nagireddy, the 11th and current UN Youth Observer. After introducing herself,

Himaja mentioned that public speaking does not come naturally to her, but with practice, she

quickly became an excellent communicator. I found this immediately reliable, having taken a

public speaking course in college to hone my communication skills. Himaja then shared a story

about her mother, who was interested in higher education while growing up in India but was

highly discouraged from doing so. These experiences led Himaja to become an advocate for

gender equality, a cause about which she is extremely passionate.

As the discussion continued during YOUNGA 2022, Himaja emphasized the importance of prioritizing

underrepresented groups in the workforce, and especially addressing sexual harrassment in our

workplaces. She also pointed out that although young people like ourselves have led the

movement for solutions to combat climate change, our leaders have largely failed to

acknowledge such contributions.

Himaja then shared stories about her experiences applying to the Youth Observer

position. Although she had initially applied for the role while in college, Himaja was rejected.

However, she did not lose hope and eventually applied again after graduating with her master’s

degree. I quickly took Himaja’s story to heart, knowing that no matter how many times I fail,

what matters most is the determination to try again.

Continuing with the discussion, Himaja then shared her stories about visiting the UN

General Assembly during High-Level Week, when dignitaries from around the globe converge

on the UN headquarters in New York City. She mentioned a time when police officers stopped

her to let a procession of ten cars pass, including one carrying President Joe Biden. I was

fascinated by Himaja’s story, since it is not every day that you must stop walking to let the

president of the United States pass through.

At YOUNGA 2022, youth delegate AnnLiz then asked what advice Himaja had for her and their fellow

women, to which Himaja replied that it is more complicated than it seems. Himaja then stressed

the importance of changing the rhetoric around women, since it is harder for women to advocate

on their own behalf. She explained that regardless of our sex or gender identity, we must

advocate for all women and recognize the oppression they face every day. After Himaja

expressed her frustration with leaders who strip away women’s rights, I felt empowered to stand

up for all the leading ladies in my life, defending their rights in the face of pressure to strip them


Himaja then shared her experiences with telling stories not only to those who are similar

to her, but those who are quite different. She also emphasized the importance of genuinely

being yourself, a sentiment with which I quickly resonated.

At the end of our discussion, Himaja took time to answer the delegates’ questions.

Rejoice Anaele, a delegate from South Carolina, asked Himaja how she was able to engage

audiences who did not wish to engage. Himaja replied that she had never experienced that lack

of audience engagement because of selection bias. In other words, Himaja’s audiences were as

interested in the subject matter as she was.

Finally, youth delegate Laura from Mexico told Himaja about her lifelong dream to join

the UN. Laura mentioned that when she was three years old, she saw something about the

United Nations on television and immediately aspired to join the organization. She also

expressed her dream to become the President of Mexico. After Laura finished her story, Himaja

remembered speaking to a public delegate who saw the United Nations building at age eight

and said, “I want to work there,” demonstrating that if we apply our skills and knowledge to the

best of our abilities, our dreams can come true.

As I signed off for the night, I not only felt inspired by Argenis and Himaja’s stories, but

more importantly, empowered to make a difference in my community. I felt that both discussions

were not only fascinating and engaging, but more importantly, a foundation providing me with

the principles and practices I must apply to become a strong, confident, and empowering leader.

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