Generation UN

I have a story to tell. It refers to some time I spent in Austin. I had travelled four thousand miles but wasn’t letting go of my social values. Gen-UN.

Generation UN Fall/Autumn 2017 in Austin, TX

Now I’m in charge of QMGS for the next academic year. I feel this is an excellent time to share what real democratic, honest leadership and comradery is all about.

It also coincides with the ending of the first year of the organisation I was a part of in Austin — Generation UN (Gen-UN).

This account is my Gen-UN adventure.

This story starts somewhere in late August. August 2017.

At UT Austin, there is this one street that runs the width of campus called Speedway. It’s the one place you can go and know where you are. Except for the UT tower, of course.

Just like Freshers’ and Refreshers’ fair in the UK, they have stalls and organisations rally for your support to join. The only main difference here is that these organisations can have a table all year round, there was one Vietnamese society that I remember distinctively sitting at the end of Speedway.

Anyway, at first, I didn’t take much notice of anything that was happening on Speedway. It was most fraternities, spirit groups and sororities. I wasn’t about to sign myself up for something where others pressurise me into situations beyond my control.

I was walking to one of my classes on the other side of Speedway, and I noticed Generation UN. That was the day I met Amman. More on Amman later. The concept was incredibly fascinating and groundbreaking for someone like me. UK societies are nothing like American organisations.

My mission for QMGS is to make it something similar to my experience in America. Where everyone, who wanted to be, felt part of a family and there were no strings attached.

Amman was a great salesman for a product that didn’t need selling. The concept sold itself. Taking the Global goals and applying them to local situations to make a substantial impact. Sold.

For someone like me, always looking for a social mission to attach and become inspired from, within days of arriving in Austin; I had found it. Or rather, it found me.

Earlier today, away from the story, a new friend of mine congratulated me on my new project I have recently started. I said:

‘I think I’m what they would call a social capitalist. Forget venture capitalism. I compound social interest to one day have a social impact large enough to satisfy the community work I have done.’

I think that sums up why I do what I do. It’s a matter of having small impacts to set up a legacy of just helping others become better versions of themselves. Something I strive for and something I achieve on a daily basis.

Gen-UN.

I went to an induction meeting on my birthday. The seventh September. I turned twenty years old. Away from my loved ones, in a new city. Little did I know, I was sitting in front of my new (temporary) family.

Sitting in that chair, meeting new people and being introduced further to the concept and the mission — I had a brainwave. A relevant and achievable (at the time I thought so and for many months after) idea. The MExU Project was born. The idea was floating around up there. It just needed some words of inspiration from others that they were interested in the topics too.

The creation of the MExU Project led me in directions and allowed me to interact with people, I otherwise never would have met. It gained substantial support from executives at UT as well as professors in their own right. I was proud. I achieved something.

Gen-UN had a lot to do with that. It was nearly almost entirely responsible.

Gen-UN wouldn’t be anything without its founding officers. A short description of each for context:

Amman — el Presidente. The man who lifted the organisation from the ashes after a first failed attempt. He didn’t give up, and he was frank about the origins of the society. He rallied the support of friends and strangers to buy into his idea. His idea was pure gold. I developed a strong friendship with Amman. He is someone I look up to for sure. He’s slightly older than me, and I always say that I hope to be doing as well or better than what he did when I get to his age. Someone who has had an impact on everyone he meets and one to watch for the future.

Britney — bubbly. Britney is someone who takes life as it comes. She is an incredibly passionate animal lover. Her pet count is something to be reckoned with, just ask Amman. She makes time for everyone, and she helped me surprise Amman too. Britney is someone who you wish you met earlier in life. A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day (and we have a lot of them in the UK). An incredible person, hardworking and mentally strong.

Dan — diligent. Dan and I spent a lot of time talking. He was in charge of the volunteering part of the organisation. I gave a lot of my time for that, between travelling and studying. He is incredibly driven, perceptive and aware of others. He understands that he lives life one way but others don’t have to do the same. He is a great cook, and he diligently does meal preparation. Half the fitness man I could ever be.

Elizabeth — passionate. There’s a lot to say about Elizabeth. Her motivation and drive to see the end of all suffering and she truly stands by her comments. She’s unapologetically herself, and I suppose that’s why I admire her so much. She is considerate and connected to her roots. I had many conversations with her about all the issues she raised. I shared the other side. Played the other side of the argument and watched her respond. My debate skills grew, and I think it has a lot to do with those conversations.

Vartika — motivated. I don’t think Vartika and I spoke too much. I remember discussing culture with her, but from my memory, she was always someone very motivated and all about the truth. It seems to be a common theme but as too was the synchronicity of the group. Vartika was in charge of accounts, and I remember I couldn’t get Venmo (this app like Paypal) because I have a British debit card. That was a funny interaction as it was so unheard of before this encounter. I have nothing but respect for her; she appeared to be incredibly driven — a quality more us could use.

Nitya — thoughtful. It’s fair to say, one of the timider officers. But that made for even better conversation. She has a great perception of what the world needs. She has developed this soft tone that makes you feel at ease in any situation. It was a welcomed contrast from the loud Americans (of which there were very few). She was interested in my project, and we spoke about its implications. It made me think more profound, and at the project’s validity and the likelihood, it would survive. An insight I may have gone without.

These were the people that helped to make my experience a ten-out-of-ten. Along with the people I met, notably; Michael, Ivana, Will, Race, Branch (Tanner), Salma, Sean, Sara, Anna and the list goes on.

Gen-UN provided me with an opportunity to mix with Americans. It gave me a chance to impart knowledge from across the pond.

I grew as a person.

I brought home tools to use for QMGS.

As I plan, with my incredible team, the next steps for us — I look to the past for insights I gained from Gen-UN.

Congratulations Gen-UN on becoming one year old. Here’s to many more years.

Well done to all involved and I hope I gave it a piece of British flair while I was there.

Gen-UN: September 2017 — December 2017

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Danial Naqvi

Joint PhD Candidate Business & Management at Manchester & Melbourne| MSc UCL Science, Technology and Society | BA (Hons) QMUL Human Geography |