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October 20, 2022

AHA Blog: AHA Attends UN’s International Day of the Girl


This month, an enthusiastic group of young women from the Academy of the Holy Angels completely filled a bus bound for New York City. They were headed to “Girls Speak Out,” the United Nations’ Tenth Annual International Day of the Girl. This showcase for young female leaders is also an opportunity to explore ways to better the lives of girls around the world.


AHA’s students came home energized. 


Nicole Yakubov (AHA ’23) found the experience fulfilling and inspiring.


“I was awakened to many touching, authentic stories from girls all over the world,” Nicole said. “It was very eye-opening to listen to the struggles that girls face both universally and individually. Listening to the diverse thoughts of girls, both 10 feet and 50,000 feet away, I felt a profound sense of unity that inspires me to continue my passion and drive for female activism. When girls come together, our dreams for equity are even closer to reality.”


Aiko “Mia” Chang (AHA ’24) said the afternoon celebration was eye-opening.


“(B)eing able to hear the voices of young women who are actively fighting to make effective change in the world was very inspirational for me to witness, since I also strive to make an impact in bringing about positive change,” Aiko shared.


“Furthermore, an interesting thing that stood out to me during the International Day of the Girl celebration was the availability and use of live auditory translations as speakers spoke in various languages.”


She enjoyed the fact that the celebration was not limited by language barriers. Aiko noted that English-speaking Americans rarely need to understand another language to carry out daily activities.


Aiko wanted to attend this event to gain greater awareness of women’s rights issues and learn how organizations like the UN provide advocacy.


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“Additionally, I had never been to the UN prior to this trip, let alone been given the opportunity to attend one of their events. I had always wanted to go to the UN given how it is a place where international powers and voices are heard in advocacy toward the betterment of the implementation of human rights, and the place where many relevant issues are discussed. So being able to visit the UN and be present at one of their events was something I was very excited for and very much wanted to do.”


Holy Angels students are able to observe and participate in various UN-based programs thanks to the Academy’s foundresses and sponsors, the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The SSNDs are registered with the UN as a Non-Governmental Organization. Sister Beatriz Martinez-Garcia, SSND, director of the School Sisters’ UN NGO Office, arranged the Angels’ visit.


Chaperones for the Angels’ trip included AHA Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Danielle Holmes; AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly; religious studies teacher Carol Fay; and AHA social studies teacher and Model UN moderator Jennifer Cucchisi.


“The highlight of the Day of the Girl this particular year was being able to take this wonderful group of girls to the UN in person for the first time in three years!” Ms. Cucchisi said. “The Day of the Girl is a day not only to celebrate girls around the world, but also to bring to light some of the struggles that so many face. Through some of the panel discussions, attendees learn ways that others are acting to try to resolve some of these problems and also learn how to continue to work toward global citizenship (something stressed at AHA) and how they, too, can be part of the solution, (which is) very similar to what we do at Model UN.”


Contributors at this year’s celebration included representatives from Afghanistan, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Peru, Singapore, Turkey, Uganda, the United States of America, Uzbekistan, and the United Kingdom.