In our Vincentian Family office at the UN we are creating opportunities for different members of the family to come and experience the kind of work we do here. One important group target for us is the young members of our family. This year we had already students from DePaul and St John’s University that came for tours, orientations or to participate in different events. This is an article that Jackeline Martinez, a DePaul graduate student wrote for us after her experience at the UN. Jacqueline is a current Senior at DePaul University pursuing studies in Economics and Public Policy. Upon graduation, Jacqueline hopes to pursue a JD-PhD to serve as an advocate for the Declaration of Universal Education Access and Equality while practicing as an International Human Rights Lawyer. [Guillermo Campuzano, C.M.]
The Indispensable Power of Story
By: Jacqueline Martinez
I recall visiting my Grandpa when I was younger. Words could not describe the joy I felt around this time of year. Vivid sun, laughter, grandpa’s iridescent array of trees bearing low hanging fruit and the pungent pomegranate juice swishing in my mouth were all memories that left with me every summer while in Mexico. But as I mature over the years, I realize that as a child, reality was but an invisible likeness that manifested throughout every one of my visits, as issues of poverty, the struggle to survive, and the people all became more real. The shack housing, children begging for food, men and women working long hours in tiresome jobs for meager pay, were all events that have insistently changed my frame of mind. Although my Mexico was beautiful in so many ways, the shadow of the humble population remains overbearing.
Recognizing inequality of opportunity, my Grandpa often said that although he was not a rich man, he had given his nine children the largest fortune in the world— an education. Viewing knowledge and opportunity as a great equalizer, education served as a passport to the future, a one-way ticket which would allow his nine children the opportunity to travel far outside the constraints of their upbringing.
Struggling with his passing at a young age, my grandpa’s story challenged me and changed me. His life and love continue to teach me. His life wasn’t what we thought it would be, neither was his passing. Yet I remain grateful for his presence in my life as I continuously yearn to honor his memory through my commitment to the eradication of economic injustices and the epidemic of human right inequalities which exist throughout the world.
Understanding the root of my families struggles, aspirations, and limitations, I have always yearned to travel the world in search for others stories which are oftentimes left unheard, asking the longstanding Vincentian question “What Must be Done?” And so I saved and borrowed money, bought the cheapest airline ticket I could find, and ventured to participate in the 2016 United Nations Youth Delegation in New York City. The Youth Assembly at the United Nations, is a unique platform created to foster dialogue and generate partnerships between exceptional youth, UN high officials and staff, private sector, and civil society. This years’ 2016 Assembly at the United Nations focused on the role of youth leaders and professionals in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
It was throughout my experience in New York that I had the privilege to speak with global leaders who contribute to the endeavor of both domestic and international development. In the process, I met youth who had a formidable will to fight for the progress of their communities; their fight is ongoing, and in many countries, it is being won. These visionaries, leaders, young and old alike, derived their strength from the realization that progress is born from within; reform begins only after you understand the character of your community, its unique challenges and potential to overcome them.
Surrounded by cause-driven leaders for two days, I met individuals who had a strong vision for what they wanted to accomplish, an an unwavering commitment to that vision. Journeying to the United States to find new ways to move these visions forward, they infused every roundtable, speech, and conversation with clear, focused direction. Engulfed by these conversations, my time at the United Nations taught me valuable lessons in leadership which will continue to shape my trajectory as a public servant. True leaders, I learned, have heart, a noble purpose, and a thirst to learn from the world around them. They draw strength not only from within, but also from surrounding influences which allow them to effect change in the wider world.
Innovative, passionate, and fueled by intention, my desire to serve as a catalyst of equality and opportunity is one that has experienced fruition over time as I have gained new experiences, taken on risks, and have had the privilege of meeting indelible people throughout the world. With experiences such as my participation in the 2016 United Nations Youth Assembly, I remain committed to eradicating global injustices, elevating cultural understanding and reciprocity, as well as protecting the vital voices of those who are oftentimes left unheard.
My decision to join the fight in advancing the rights of those experiencing extreme poverty is a decision which parallels my personal mission to eradicate global injustices, to elevate cultural understanding and reciprocity, as well as to shed light upon the vital voices of those whose stories are oftentimes left unheard. Complex, empowering, yet oftentimes untold, it is crucial for us to recognize the merging role of a multitude of stories and perspectives throughout the world. After all, much like the stories of the people I was fortunate to meet, I believe it is the indispensable power of storytelling which helps humanize our message to the world.