According to the United Nations, nearly 140 people die each hour from AIDS-related causes. While the international community has made progress in combating the disease, nearly 37 million people continue to live with AIDS and halting the spread of HIV remains one of the public health challenges of the 21st century.
On March 18, Blair’s Emily (Xiaoyu) Wang ’23 lent her voice to the critical issue, delivering a 20-minute speech to the 66th United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women that addressed the causes of elevated HIV/AIDS transmission rates and provided potential solutions aimed at youth. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where I could both represent students from Blair and learn from the other attendees,” Emily says. “I’m so grateful for the experience.”
Emily has long held an interest in using education—and her talent—to make the world a better place. In middle school, she tutored public school students from rural Liangshan, China, volunteering to teach English and creating an art textbook titled Let Me Draw the Vocabulary that is now used by her former pupils. At Blair, Emily stepped up to teach a seminar to classmates during 2021’s Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month, and this year, she led one of Blair’s Black History Month seminars, educating her peers and the school community about the American civil rights movement. After Mr. Redos’ Human Rights class and Mr. Thomas’ Art for Social Change class sparked her interest in human rights, Emily applied for an internship at a nonprofit focused on HIV education in China. That nonprofit’s website led her to an application to address the United Nations—and that is how the Blair junior found herself speaking to a conference of 200 international dignitaries in March.
Although she blushes when called a representative of global youth, Emily is delighted to have had the opportunity to inform policy on an international level and to be an advocate for using education to combat HIV/AIDS. “My advice at the U.N. conference was that students are a powerful tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Peer education promotes dialogue and helps combat the deep-seated stigmas that can lead to a lack of health education worldwide.”
Currently in the process of applying for a position on the United Nations’ ECOSOC Youth Forum, Emily hopes that her international work to improve the lives of others is just beginning. As she told the U.N. conference in March, “We cannot be satisfied until everybody, in both developing and developed countries, receive the care they need to lead healthy lives.”