40+ days in the shoes of a Youth Delegat

It has been 73 days, 2 hours and 25 minutes since Ilda and Stiven have been appointed as the first Youth Delegates of Albania to the United Nations. If you have not been following them on Facebook or Instagram, let us tell you they are running on a tight agenda. They have already started the tour of consultations with Albanian youth throughout the country while simultaneously meeting with several NGOs working with and for youth.

We decided to take a closer look into their journey. Here is what they decided to share.

Q1: Hi Ilda and Stiven! A busy couple of months, right? We have noticed you visit some Albanian cities: Mirdita, Lezha, Shkodra, Vlora. Did we miss any?

Stiven: Yes you did! We also have been to Puka for an event organized by the EU Delegation to Albania.

My question is: Aren’t you tired already? *laughs*

Jokes aside: What has changed now that you are Youth Delegates? How has the transition from active citizens to Youth Delegates impacted you?

Ilda: It’s been a couple of months since I became a UN Youth Delegate. This is a good question as it makes me reflect on my experience thus far, and honestly speaking, it has been so fast-paced that I haven’t had the chance really to sit down and let everything sink in and reflect on all that has been happening.

My calendar is tighter now. We have been to several cities in Albania and we have been attending various meetings related to youth and other diplomatic events. This has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds. Talking to youngsters about their issues, meeting NGO representatives and other people involved in the field, gave me a broader view of the current problems and made me think about potential solutions.

I know it may sound tiring but the experience you gain and the feeling of you are doing the right thing, promoting change is the best relaxation (no matter how counter-intuitive it may seem).

Stiven: It has been some years now that I am an active citizen and when I applied to be Youth Delegate I thought it wouldn’t change much from what I had been doing. Now, I can gladly say that it is different. Along with Ilda we have been working a lot, meeting youth and NGOs. We’re always in the process of learning since the UN World is a big one.

Q2: What about the feeling you experience interacting with the youth of different backgrounds from yours? How has their perspective contributed to your work as Youth Delegates?

Stiven: Even though I have worked with youth before, it is always a pleasure to meet more youngsters. We have visited some places and got to learn many problems that youngsters in these cities face.

I can gladly say that Albanian youth is a great potential for our country. We have encountered some fantastic young people with bright ideas and a lot of drive for problem-solving.

Ilda: Interacting with young people from different backgrounds has definitely been eye-opening. I was met with enthusiasm, positive energy, and hopes of change in every youth group.

For example, in Lezhe, youngsters noted the lack of facilities to develop their skills.  In Shkoder, the facilities weren’t missing, but there was a problem of keeping the youth motivated and engaged. I was very positively surprised by Mirdite. It is a small community but with lots of motivation and energy. While in Vlore, it was nice to see that the young people were worried about global problems such as Climate Change.

You can definitely see a pattern of what will happen. We notice a creation of a dynamic loop that will help maximize our effort.

Q3: You have also met up with several NGOs working with and for Youth. What do you value the most from this cooperation? How has it been beneficiary?

Ilda: The best form of gathering insight is talking directly to people in charge and people that represent the opinion of a larger group. So it was very beneficial to meet with several NGO representatives. They informed us about the current state of activism in Albania, the problems that they face while working with and for the youth, what are the bottle-necks, and their goals for the future.

Stiven: In Albania, we have a lot of NGOs doing a good job.. It is quite beneficiary for us to hear their problems, ideas, and solutions. Some of them have quite some experience on youth issues. Even though they face problems in their everyday work they still manage to go through the hard times and work for young people of our country. We will try to reach more and more organizations and since we’re here let us make a call for all the NGOs who would like to meet and cooperate – please contact us.

Q4: Where is your next destination? Can you please share some of your plans?

Stiven: We want to visit more cities in Albania and we will continue with Korça & Pogradec. We’re also meeting other European youth delegates in Berlin this August at the UN advocacy meeting and we can’t wait to work with them for a joint strategy of lobbying at the GA.

Ilda: Basically, we are planning to do at least another consultation tour. This time, as Stiven said, we are visiting Korça and Pogradec (or Elbasan and Fier). At the same time, we are planning to be more active on social media by organizing little engaging challenges that tackle environmental issues. Simultaneously, we will be actively focusing on our preparation for the General Assembly in New York, a major event that will require us to travel a long distance. Even though the schedule seems full I am pretty sure there will be more additions to the list.

Q5: What has been the most difficult part of the programme until now?

Ilda: It is sort of difficult to cope with the idea of the responsibility of representing your country and the Albanian youth in an international setting. International settings and diplomatic environments keep you on your toes and make you stay on edge; pick up everything that is happening and act accordingly so that indeed you help the conference to be more productive.

However, having the support of Kristi and Alba (the President and the Secretary-General) and the UN Association Albania’s team has been very helpful.

Also, a personal challenge that I would like to share is definitely having to adapt to the formal dress code and etiquette :).

Stiven: Coordinating, definitely haha. Since both Ilda and I are students we struggle sometimes. We are always in touch but when it comes to a meeting we are always ‘stealing’ some time from school

Q6: How different it is being a UNYD compared to what you imagined before you were selected?

Stiven: I knew it would require effort. Now I see it is a challenging duty. Everything depends on how much you want to work and strive for change and impact the youth of the country.

Ilda: It’s a little early to make a comparison but I shall say that this experience has been as intense and dynamic as I expected. I am enjoying everything that comes with it: meeting new people, talking about youth problems, and actually working on making a positive and sustainable impact. I hope that the experience will continue to be as fulfilling as it has already been and that it results in significant improvements for the Albanian youth.

This is all we managed to find out. We hope you enjoyed it and we promise to always keep you up-to-date