How Samantha Power Inspired Me to be an Upstander

Posted by Yohara Molineros on September 23, 2016

There are more people displaced in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. In May 2016, Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, shared this fact with dozens of New York City students, all immigrants, during a visit to Newcomers High School. By discussing the global refugee crisis with them, the ambassador hoped to inspire a sense of responsibility in students—to bridge the gap between us and them—and to empower them to take action. Hear how this visit inspired Yohara Molineros, one of those students. 

Teachers, make sure to check out Facing History's new lesson, Understanding the Global Refugee Crisis, which draws on readings and short videos from Ambassador Power's conversation. We provide essential materials, resources, and activities to explain and humanize a crisis that often feels too overwhelming to confront.


Samantha Power speaks to students at Newcomers High School in New York about the current refugee crisis.

I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same room as Ambassador Power. It was such a meaningful experience. We prepared for her visit for so long that when it actually happened, it seemed like one more practice run, but this time with a spark of reality. Before meeting her, I learned about refugees in my Facing History class. I learned about the countries that accepted them, yet won’t allow them to work and have a normal life, simply because they have forgotten these people are humans before they are refugees. In class we watched her inspirational speeches and I learned a lot about her, but having her in front of me was a total different experience.

The actual day of the visit, I did not expect the sweetness and kindness she displayed. As soon as I walked into the library I knew there was a true upstander visiting my school. When she began talking, I felt like I was swimming through a sea of ideas, achievements, and projects while flying through the clouds of her own experiences and challenges. Every single one of the words she mentioned during those 60 minutes held significant meaning for me. One of the most important things I learned was the idea of living without really living. When people haven’t found a cause to fight for, they haven’t really found purpose in their lives; therefore they haven’t started to live yet. That makes a lot of sense to me, because I believe humans have to service others in order for their existence to have some type of value. Why do we live if it isn’t to solve the problems our human race has caused? It’s part of finding our own happiness, to settle peace and joy in others people’s hearts.

Samantha Power’s visit made me realize the refugee crisis is a considerable event that many people ignore. The media plays a significant role and we have to do something about it. She also taught me another great lesson about the aid we offer to others. She mentioned that helping others doesn’t have to be something huge; even the smallest of acts can make a real difference in somebody’s life. For example, if possible, we can invite one of these refugees to our home, have dinner together and make them feel like they are not alone, that his or her situation is just temporary. After the rain leaves, there is always a rainbow and, sooner or later, the sun will shine again. We have to ensure this to them.

I can say without a doubt that Samantha Power’s visit left me inspired in many ways. Now, I wish I could work in the United Nations like her, just to have the faculty to do more for people in need. She taught me that humility has to stay with you even if you have gotten the farthest in your career and personal life. It’s not about how you treat people at the same level as you, it’s about how you treat people who haven’t gotten there yet. She also made me realize I’m powerful enough to make a difference in a refugee’s life and motivated me to take action over the situation, even if I’m just a high school student. Now, I feel like inviting people who are going through any struggle to my house to light up their day. In fact, I see myself making a difference in today’s world by acting kindly, helping others in a deep, sincere way, and by finding a cause to defend and live for. And it was all because of her. Thank you, Samantha Power.

Explore Facing History's lesson, Understanding the Global Refugee Crisisto help students better understand this timely and relevant issue.  

Get the lesson today!

Topics: Student Voices, Refugees, Refugee Crisis

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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