BC Student Shares UN Experiences
Loughrin served as the first U.S. Youth Observer at the UN General Assembly.
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02
At the age of 20, Brooke Loughrin, A&S ’14, has a resume that could fill 20 pages.
From her first experiences at age 12 working for the Fabric of Life Foundation, to her numerous roles within the Boston College community, she has always had a passion for improving the lives of people around the world. At BC, Loughrin is a political science and Islamic civilizations and Societies double major, vice president of the Iranian Culture Club, Editor-In-Chief of Al-Noor, member of the Presidential Scholars Program, and an undergraduate research fellow for Ali Banuaziz, all in addition to her extensive participation in community service and world travel.
This past fall, Loughrin accepted an honor that would overshadow the rest of her outstanding accomplishments. On a late September afternoon, she received a call informing her that she had been selected to accompany the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly as our country’s first ever youth observer.
On Wednesday Feb. 6, the Boisi Center kicked off its programs for the semester with a discussion featuring Loughrin, where she shared her unique experiences working with the UN.
Loughrin explained that she faced challenges from the start of her experience. As the self-described “guinea pig” of the youth observer position, she felt tremendous pressure to make her voice heard, Loughrin said. The novelty of her role required that Loughrin demonstrate that a youth representative was a legitimate addition to the U.S. delegation, not just a symbolic member. “The first thing I had to do was build the confidence of the people who actually determined whether this role even exists,” she said.
To build this confidence, Loughrin attended the hearings of the UN’s General Assembly, and even spoke before the entire international delegation.
In addition to her speaking role, Loughrin’s responsibilities extended into the realm of social media, requiring her to update the Youth Observer blog on the U.S. United Nations Association website, as well as her Twitter account @USYouthObserver, to document her experiences for the general public. “We just recently got into quite a debate about quotas for women in the legislature of a variety of countries, and so I sort of sparked a Twitter controversy after we talked about that,” she said.
Throughout her experience, Loughrin stressed her desire to establish a permanent future for the position of a U.S. youth delegate, in order to ensure that the voices of the younger American generation would be recognized in international diplomacy. “More than half of the population of the world is under thirty,” she said. “I hope that my role in some ways can provide access for young people in the U.S. to the UN.”
For three weeks Loughrin worked with 40 other youth delegates from countries including Norway, Thailand, Rwanda, and Kenya discussing topics ranging from climate change to social welfare issues. During that time Loughrin also observed ways of improving U.S. youth representation in international affairs. For ways to improve youth representation, Loughrin pointed to the Australian youth delegation, which participates in a national tour to include the opinions of young people around the country, thereby adding a democratic element to the youth delegate role. Loughrin expressed her interest in making this a part of the future duties of the U.S. Youth Observer when she argued that the listening tour element would make “young people in the U.S. feel like this is a role that represents them and their interests.”