More than 50 high-achieving college students from over two-dozen countries will convene at Northeastern University for the fourth annual Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum and Symposium.
The students—winners of an essay contest held by ELS Education Services and the United Nations Academic Impact—will spend five days working to create action plans for addressing select goals from the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The group will live and work at Northeastern from July 16 to July 20, rooming in International Village and collaborating in Ryder Hall. They will then travel to New York, where they will present their plans at the United Nations General Assembly.
The students will also engage in a range of cultural opportunities in both New York and Boston.
The program aligns with two of Northeastern’s primary foci—global experiential learning and diversity and inclusion. Each year, more than 3,000 Northeastern students work or study in countries across the globe, engaging with diverse people, ideas, and perspectives. Whether through global co-op, Dialogue of Civilizations, or other global programs, Northeastern students have engaged in experiential learning in more than 130 countries.
The MLOW contest challenged college students from around the world to write a 2,000-word essay discussing global citizenship and cultural understanding, with a particular focus on the role that multilingualism plays in fostering these virtues. Participants were permitted to write their essays in one of six languages of the United Nations—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—but they were prohibited from using both their first language and the medium of instruction at their schools. In many cases, students submitted essays written in either their third or fourth language.
More than 2,000 students from 1,950 institutions of higher education participated in the contest, including entrants from France, India, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the U.S. Sixty winning essays were selected, including 10 from entries in each of the United Nations six official languages.
At Northeastern, the winners will be divided into six groups based on the language in which they crafted their essay. Each group will be assigned one of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, which range from eradicating poverty to providing access to clean water for all.
The Arabic language group will focus on quality education; the Chinese language group will focus on climate action; the English language group will focus on peace, justice, and strong institutions; the French language group will focus on gender equality; the Russian language group will focus on industry, innovation, and infrastructure; and the Spanish language group will focus on sustainable cities and communities. After the students make their presentations at the UN General Assembly, they will have the opportunity to reflect on the experience as part of a group debriefing.