*Another in UFI’s series of blog posts from the young adults attending the UN High Level Meeting on Youth
Growing up in Iowa, I had to learn to stand up for my beliefs, which weren’t always popular. Conservative views and Christian beliefs were present in my high school, but they certainly were not the loudest voices in the school. I then went to Brigham Young University, where conservative is mainstream and nonreligious is unheard of. But neither of those experiences could really prepare me for New York City and the UN.
I have but rarely been in a city as big as New York. Other than having a firm resolution in my mind that I never want to live here, the big city does not bother me.
The UN, though, is another story. The only thing that can be counted on when it comes to the UN are unpredictability and disorganization. The document that was initially supposed to be negotiated during this conference is already done, and was before I stepped foot in New York, my work was done. The only thing to do is gather information on what is happening in the UN, especially on the social issues involved.
Today, July 25th, I attended the morning UN General Assembly Session after having waited in a line for a couple of hours. The irony of that meeting is that none of the young people in attendance at this UN conference were issued the usual regulation badges. Rather, we were given tickets, and we have to get a new ticket for each general session. We weren’t even extended the same courtesy that is given to the usual NGO delegate to the UN.
At these general sessions, everybody says essentially the same thing. “We need to listen to our young people. We need to give them a voice. We need to include them in our delegations, even.” And I sit there, observing, but would love to participate. But we are unable to get badges. Even at the side meetings, our point of view is often skated over and largely ignored.
Another thing that bugs me is that the term “religious fundamentalist” has been applied to me and those who believe, like I do, that the family is the central unit of society. I am religious. I will not deny that. But a request to recognize and support the traditional family in which one man married to one woman create a family together is not fundamentalism and should not be lumped with those who would kill for their point of view.
I have given some thought to a solution to the problems at the UN, and the fundamental differences that seem to be very prevalent, particularly at the side meetings. We cannot get anywhere without stepping back a bit and looking at the issues as they really are. A little understanding and patience goes a long way.
Desiree Davenport is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has five younger siblings, a mom and a dad and a dog; together, they are a very happy family. Desiree recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. From Desiree: “The opportunity to come to New York to stand and fight for the family came at a great time for me and I am happy and honored to be here and do what I can.”