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Eckerd College junior speaks to U.N. General Assembly

By Tom Scherberger
Published July 11, 2014
Categories: Academics

It’s not every day a college student addresses the United Nations General Assembly. Yet that’s exactly what Eckerd College junior Julia Collins ’16 found herself doing last month.

Julia, a double major in Spanish and International Business, was one of 60 students from around the world invited to speak at the UN as part of a foreign-language essay contest.

The Many Languages, One World Essay Contest drew entries from nearly 1,500 students on the subject of multilingualism and global citizenship. The essays were written in one of the six official languages of the U.N. – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish – and not the student’s native language.

Julia and the other winners were invited to participate in a five-day Global Youth Forum at the U.N. in New York City, culminating June 27 with presentations to the General Assembly. Julia wrote her essay and spoke in Spanish. The winners came from 28 different countries.

“The trip was such an amazing experience,’’ said Julia, who hails from Duluth, Ga. “I am so glad that I had both the chance to speak at the UN as well as the opportunity to meet all of the amazing people who participated in the forum.”

Julia entered in February, sponsored by Professor of Spanish Yolanda  Molina-Gavilan, PhD.  “I agreed to sponsor Julia after getting to know her in class and during my Winter Term trip to Madrid because she is simply one of our best Spanish majors,” she said. “She is dedicated to learning the Spanish language and diverse cultures of the Hispanic world and has  already achieved a high level of proficiency. Julia is the kind of student who is self-motivated, eager to learn and appreciative of the opportunities that come her way. She also has a very positive attitude to life and a cheery disposition.”

Julia described a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple. “They flew us all into New York on Wednesday, June 25, and housed us at the Adelphi University campus,” Julia recalls. “In our language groups we formulated our ideas and wrote and perfected our speeches for our individual two-minute speaking blocks at the U.N.. On Friday we arrived at the U.N., set up and then presented our speeches to the general Assembly and various international diplomats, numbering around 200 to 300 people.

“I spoke on the creation of global citizenship at a younger age. This subject is something I am very passionate about. Through the many classes I have taken, I have really developed a global understanding of the world and I see a serious need to begin changing the mindset of people across the globe from individualistic to a ‘for the good of the world mentality.’ “

It wasn’t all work, though. “The trip also involved touring New York, seeing Broadway shows, and a little bit of shopping.,” Julia explains.

In the photo above,  President & CEO of ELS Educational Services Mark W. Harris presents a certificate to Julia. ELS Educational Services organized the contest.