Student Tarnjeet Kaur: The United Nations felt like home


Third-year BA Business Management and Economics student Tarnjeet Kaur is one of four students who recently represented De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York following their exceptional efforts towards championing sustainability. Each student had the opportunity to present their own work to UN officials. We caught up with Tarnjeet to find out more about her experiences:

As she passed through the doors of the United Nations headquarters in New York, into the famous debating chambers within, Tarnjeet Kaur felt welcome, quite at home.

Walking through the hushed, high-ceilinged-spaces of the mighty building on the bank of the East River, she felt entirely at peace.

Until, that was, she remembered why she was there.

“I was there to stand up and do a presentation in front of members of the UN. Suddenly the nerves kicked in!”

Tarnjeet was one of four students from DMU chosen to represent the university and its work to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations.

UN students

Each student on the trip had the opportunity to present their own ideas, work and research on sustainability to UN officials in one of the legendary debating chambers.

It is no mean feat to stand up in front of UN officials and present your own work on sustainability – after all, the UN helped to write the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the first place.

 “Wow, was I nervous,” Tarnjeet said, recalling how she prepared to speak.

“I started my presentation based on my own personal journey,” she said. “I presented myself and how I was raised by my family. My family strongly believes in helping others, happiness and considering other people’s happiness.”

 

Then she moved into the detail of her talk.

“I told them about all the projects we do at DMU,” she said. “We have spoken with the UN before so they knew about some of our projects but it was nice to talk face-to- face.

“I talked them through the new student allotment on campus, our dental project ‘Smile’ which helps children with dental care and our ‘Welcome Home project’ helping homeless people in the local community. These are just a small snap shot though.”

MicrosoftTeams-image

Standing there, giving this pitch to UN senior staff, Tarnjeet realised how far she had come while at DMU.

“I didn’t know anything about the SDGs until I came to DMU,” she said. “I joined different societies at the university based on wanting to help people, and achieve something, it is how I was raised and I really want to make a difference where I can in my life.”

She continued: “After I joined Enactus at DMU (an activist group which promotes entrepreneurial ideas and action), I was able to enhance my own skills and channel my energy into something I really enjoyed and felt I was making a difference.

 “I ended up president of the society and I spoke in my presentation all about my experiences, the projects I have been involved with and helping change people’s lives is the best feeling in the world.”

 

Tarnjeet also got the opportunity to share some of her own ideas on improving sustainability at the university to UN officials.

“I keep saying this but I was nervous! At the end I got the opportunity to share my own ideas on how to improve student engagement at the university.

“We need to keep fuelling all the societies and people at DMU that are doing great work towards the SDGs, to keep going and give them recognition.

“I want DMU to become the most sustainable university in the UK.”

UN outside pic

She added: “One of the main points I feel strongly about is reaching out to school children, there is a break in communication and a lack of knowledge. I personally knew nothing about the SDGs until I came to university.

“Children need to be made aware, I think it could be done in a really engaging way too, they are the future of this world. It comes from my own journey, my family’s beliefs and how I was raised is very much in line with the SDG’s but I knew nothing about them until I was university age.

“I want to plant a little green seed into the hearts of children.”

Each student was also provided with valuable feed back from UN officials to bring back to the university to help encourage others.

“The feedback was amazing, from UN officials, we were told we are on the right path and that was a great feeling. Passionate people will make things change.

“The main thing I got from the feedback to achieve big change, even though it’s obvious, it’s to work as a team. We were also given advice on how to encourage other students.”

Feeling humble she said: “I am so grateful I got to tell people at the UN about all the projects I have been involved with. It’s mad to think I am at DMU in Leicester and got to tell officials in New York all about it.”

It wasn’t all work and no play, of course.

She said: “It was my first time in New York and it was an incredible experience, I saw some incredible sights, I loved the library so much I went twice!

“But the most important part for me was the company, all the staff and students on the trip were amazing and it truly made the trip for me. We had some lovely meals and lots of laughs together.

“It was the biggest experience of my entire life, I have been in many situations in my life but this one is going to last forever.”

Posted on Monday 18th July 2022

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