My name is Deona Julary, I’m 16 years old, and I’m a UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellow. If the name sounds familiar, that is because I was a Youth Intern at Teach The Future a couple of years ago and helped mobilize the Young Voices Network. So you might be wondering: how did I go from working for Teach The Future to UNICEF? This blog post will be dedicated to narrating my journey and the UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellowship Program.
In August 2022, I finished a one-month internship at SDG Align with Willem Overbosch as my mentor, as I wanted to gain more experience with AI and technology. Willem texted me the next day, saying that there was this neat opportunity he saw on LinkedIn:
He encouraged me to apply and so I applied on a whim, not expecting much. A couple of weeks later, when I was driving back home from my football game as drum major of my high school marching band, I received an email saying that I got accepted. I screamed in the car and my Dad asked if I was okay. Sorry Dad.
I eventually attended my first meeting and I was met with eight other brilliant fellows: Nourhan, Iman, Jac, Ijun, Asra, Fisayo, Ricardo and Joshua. The energy in the (virtual) room was palpable; I felt like this was the start of something great. I was also met with my bosses and support staff for the next six or so months: Adam, Shai, Yoonie, and Manasi. Countless others joined the ever-growing team in the later months such as Tamara, Kathleen, and Cristina, who I am forevermore grateful for.
Every Friday, when I had my weekly team meeting, I remember feeling a newfound sense of direction and purpose. We started crafting foresight workshops for keen youth foresight practitioners around the world to learn more about foresight and provide the opportunity to some of the trends in UNICEF’s Global Outlook Report. These workshops were important because it marked the first time that young people designed and led their own participatory foresight research process that contributed to a major publication. If you would like to see some takeaways from the workshops, please check out Lorette Bessem’s workshop takeaway posts! She worked at Teach The Future a while back too.
Once the workshops were finished, the fellows spent time synthesizing input from the workshops with policy specialists. I focused on capturing the digital trends with Steven Vosloo and Melvin Breton, with information from the workshops, my personal experiences and research, and literature review that was curated by a couple of the fellows. After months of edits and fine-tuning, UNICEF released their Global Outlook Report for 2023, receiving much positive approval. If you would like to see a summary of the report, check out Lorette’s Global Outlook Report Summary.
As the Global Outlook Report was being finalized, the fellows began to work on a compendium product of their choosing, which ended up being a report from the future paired with a social media campaign to mobilize foresight education and outreach, inspiring young voices to be agents of their future. The product will be launched some time in April, so be on the lookout on UNICEF Innocenti’s social media channels! (Linkedin & Instagram)
My top-three reflective takeaways from the program:
~Explore, explore, explore! The UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellowship helped me further explore my interests of foresight, technology and global issues, all within a structured and beneficial environment.
~Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! Many of the fellows had more experience in foresight than I did, but each and every one of us had something to break to the table. I was very strong when it came to youth engagement, organization, logistics, and technology, so I was able to teach and learn throughout the fellowship.
~Be open to change! In this world, where disruption and uncertainty is revolutionizing the world we live in, it was important to be up-to-date and open to new ideas and ways of doing things throughout the fellowship.
I would like to leave you all with a quote:
“Is a crisis automatically an opportunity?” - Joshua Steib, 19, United Nations Youth Delegate and UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellow
This is what happens when young voices participate in the critical discussion about our future.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or connect with me on LinkedIn! Have a great day! Stay smiley :)
Deona Julary; UNICEF Fellow & NGFP-YV* Top 10 Winner 2 years in a row
Post Written by Deona Julary
Picture edited additions made by: Lisa Giuliani
*Next Generation Foresight Practitioners -Young Voices Awards