On Monday 27th of June the UN SDG Action Campaign visited the PS 368 Star Academy in East New York, Brooklyn to introduce them to the Sustainable Development Goals and Clouds Over Sidra, a film that is part of the UN Virtual Reality Series. The visit was on invitation of the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, and part of pilot testing the two entities have been engaged in to offer theses types of immersive experiences and create a lasting partnership for second year of the NYC Junior Ambassadors Program for students in NYC.
For the past year, the NYC Junior Ambassadors Program, a partnership between the NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and the UN, gave seventh graders in all five boroughs of New York City the opportunity to actively engage with today’s global challenges by looking closely at issues, such as Human Rights, and the refugees crisis.
The UN SDG Action Campaign began the workshop with some context about the Sustainable Development Goals, introducing the MY World 2030 survey. They then spoke with the students about their priorities for a better world and other opportunities and platforms for expressing their opinions.
The Campaign then gave a brief about the Syrian refugee crisis, followed by the opportunity to experience the consequences of the Syrian crisis through the eyes of a young Syrian refugee girl in the film, Clouds Over Sidra, part of the United Nations Virtual Reality Series. Students were excited about wearing the virtual reality headsets and using the innovative technology to enhance their classroom learning experience.
Several students were emotional when experiencing the story of a young Syrian refugee in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan up close. Being from a similar age group emphasized the daily struggles faced by Sidra and her life’s story marred by conflict. They were surprised about the conditions she lived in, and thoughtful about the extracurricular activities shown in the film.
When asked to describe what they would tell Sidra if they had the opportunity, the students said:
- “If I could talk to her I would say that she is still young, and she still has a great future ahead.”
- “I would tell her that she has been through so much and that she is very strong.”
- “I wish I could do something so she wasn’t in that situation. I didn’t like where she lived.”
The NYC Mayor’s Office and the UN SDG Action Campaign are encouraged by these types of reactions and hope to expand their relationship to offer it to more students in the upcoming school year.
Special thanks to Aissata Camara from the NYC Mayor’s Office for her continuous dedication to ensuring young people across the city have opportunities to learn about global affairs and the UN. Also a special thanks to P368 school, especially Ms. Alice Browne and her students for inviting the Campaign to their classroom with open arms.