Many Languages One World 

The Origins of Many Languages, One World

The Many Languages, One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum began as a joint vision of The United Nations Academic Impact and Dr. J. Michael Adams, who prepared global citizens through international education as the president of Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1999 to 2012. The United Nations Academic Impact was launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in November 2010.

After Dr. Adams’ untimely passing in 2012, Mr. Ramu Damodaran, Chief of the United Nations Academic Impact worked alongside Mr. Mark W. Harris, former President and CEO of ELS Educational Services Inc. and Berlitz International Inc.to make the vision of Many Languages One World a reality.

June 2014 marked the beginning of the 70th anniversary year of the signing of the United Nations Charter. To commemorate this occasion, and as part of the United Nations Academic Impact global initiative, ELS Educational Services Inc. and the United Nations Academic Impact along with Adelphi University under the leadership of former President Robert A. Scott, Ph.D. launched the first Many Languages, One World Essay Contest and Global Youth Forum.

To qualify for the inaugural competition in 2014, participants wrote a 2,000 word essay discussing the ideas of global citizenship, cultural understanding and the role that multilingual ability can play in fostering these principles. The language of each participant’s essay had to be one of the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), could not be his or her first language, and could not be the language of instruction during his or her pre-university study. All participants were also required to be full-time university students. Over 1,400 essays were successfully submitted, and 60 winners were invited to attend the conference and Global Youth Forum in New York. During the event’s culmination, the essay contest winners convened at the United Nations and presented on key issues of the United Nations Academic Impact global initiative.  

The contest continued in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  Over the four years, more than 16,500 people participated globally with 250 winners, creating new global citizens with each year. 

2017 welcomed Northeastern University as the host of the Many Languages, One World Global Youth Forum and the sponsor and organizer of the Northeastern University Global Youth Conference. The contest qualified contestants for the opportunity to win a trip to participate in the Global Youth Forum, present their ideas in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York City, NY followed by the Northeastern University Global Youth Conference in Boston, MA.

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