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Trinity Student Speaks at a United Nations Association Gala

By Allison Pickens
On December 8, 2009

Trinity's Ibrahim Diallo '11 was invited to speak at a United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) and the Business Council for the United Nations' 51st annual Global Leadership Awards Gala in New York City. Diallo's invitation stemmed from the inaugural Leo Nevas Human Rights Young Advocate Award, which Diallo was awarded last year.

In attendance at the event were Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer-Prize winning author, and John C. Whitehead, civil servant and UNA-USA Champion for Global Change Award recipient.

The Nov. 23 event, which was hosted by famed reporter Lesley Stahl, was also the UNA-USA's 10th anniversary of Global Classrooms, a UNA signature initiative educational program, which cultivates literacy, life skills, and the necessary skills for active citizenship.

Diallo first became involved with Global Classrooms and UNA in high school when he participated in a model UN conference in the 10th grade.

"Little did I know then that I would continue to be involved with Global Classrooms well after high school and into my college years," Diallo told the crowd.

After Diallo, a native of Guinea, graduated high school, he became a volunteer for the Global Classrooms organization and said in his speech that the combination of "fear, nervousness, and hope" he sees in the students involved in the program is inspiring.

"It was a great event and it was an honor for me to speak before such a great group of individuals. It is great to see the African Development Coalition gain the attention of people at the United Nations," Diallo said.

That inspiration moved Diallo to bring his work with the United Nations to Trinity, where he is a political science major and a human rights minor. In the fall of 2008, Trinity officially recognized the African Development Coalition (ADC) which is "a group committed to learning about different African countries, creating local development projects, and engaging partners and local African communities to help carry out our mission," Diallo explained in his speech.

"My Global Classrooms experiences have helped shape my vision for the African Development Coalition; this deepened understanding continues to be the driving force for this organization today," Diallo continued as he addressed the audience.

Each year, the ADC chooses one African country to focus on in the hopes of raising awareness of contemporary African culture and political and economic issues. The group works together to "create a network of civil servants to work towards, peace, education, and development on the continent."

Last summer, the ADC sent members to the village of Mitty Maadou, a small village in Guinea, West Africa. There, Diallo and the other ADC members helped renovate a disintegrating primary school. In Mitty Maadou, the group also installed water pumps and supplied textbooks and classroom materials to the school officials in the village.

"The finished school is modest compared to the American schools that we're used to," said a report prepared after the project was concluded.

However, "the change is absolutely remarkable, and the primary school in Mitty Maadou is now easily one of the most beautiful schools in the area," Diallo said.

For the future, Diallo and the ADC are hoping to increase educational opportunities for African students by building a computer lab at a university in Sierra Leone. Through donations of at least 25 Macs and PCs in good, working condition, the ADC is hoping to provide free computers for the university.

"We will learn how to create an image and use that image to format and install computers," says the proposal. "We will create workshops that we will lead for the students and administrators [who] will be responsible for the care of the lab. We will ensure that our work there is sustainable," Diallo noted.

Closing his speech, Diallo called on himself and his peers to fight against the problems we face. "We live in an interconnected world; the challenges we face are global. My generation, in particular, faces a unique and daunting task. How do we preserve, protect and enhance the United Nations, an organization that I sincerely believe is the last best hope on earth?" Diallo said.

"While we may not solve Africa's problems," he noted, "we are certain that we will become better global citizens by maintaining our quest for knowledge and by completing one project at a time."

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