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Human Rights Week of Action Blog Series: Post 7

Photo: UNA-NCA

December 10th will mark DC's 10th anniversary as a Human Rights City. In honor of this important milestone, AFSC DC is planning a Human Rights Week of Action December 10-14. This week will begin on International Human Rights Day (December 10) and conclude with a community open house at ONE DC's Black Workers and Wellness Center on Friday, December 14. 

My vision for DC in its second decade as a Human Rights City

Author: Nicole Bohannon, UN Association of the National Capital Area Global Education Managing Director

I was born and raised in DC and have lived here for most of my life. I have seen it change; physically it has new buildings going up every month, and less tangibly it has more and more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young people moving here every day.

But, in my experience, the one thing that has never changed is that DC is not a city that people end up in by accident. There are wonderful cities like New York or Los Angeles with stories of people who move there with no plan and less than $20 in their pocket with a big dream.

But DC isn’t like that. People who come to this city are intentional - they may not know exactly the job title they’ll hold, but they have the ambition to make the world a better place. The only question is what outlet they will use to accomplish that goal.

When I think about DC going into the next decade as a human rights city, that’s what comes to mind: ambitious young people who aren’t blind to what’s wrong with the world, but have the resilience to address those problems and actually do something about it.

I see this every day in my job as the Global Education Managing Director at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. My program, Global Classrooms DC, works with about 1,000 middle and high school students in the DC-area, and I work directly with teachers, parents, mentors, and more who are giving students the tools they need to make an impact on their world. I’ve seen kids as young as 10 years old advocate for refugees to have equal rights as any citizen in the world; I’ve heard them question the inaction of other countries and propose possible solutions; I’ve worked with them as they discover their voice.

Many people nowadays worry about how much time kids are spending on the Internet or their phones. But I have never lost a minute of sleep over that - I know we are already witnessing a massive wave of activism of enlightened, passionate young people in our city. Not only will these same kids be out of college within 10 years - they will be employed by governments, nonprofits, and even corporations, improving the system to make it more equal and accessible to people regardless of religious beliefs, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or gender.

There are many terrifying and overwhelming realities we face every day in DC: homelessness, discrimination, structural violence, and more. But if the last ten years of progress are any indication, the next ten years are looking brighter than ever.